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Petronio's Premieres Yell for Attention: Stephen Petronio at the Joyce

by Taylor Gordon
April 6, 2008
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011
212-242-0800

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Stephen Petronio Company
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New York, NY 10003
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Stephen Petronio's program at The Joyce Theater April 1-6 offers a subtle nod to the past and a proud toss to the contemporary.

His style changes throughout the evening, keeping the eye intrigued. A common theme is his juxtaposition of movement versus stillness, where a single dancer holds a pose as if anchoring down the nearby storm of legs and arms. His dancers often cringe and repulse as if a weighted marble were traveling through their bodies, falling out of nowhere, slipping through the path of their veins, gaining momentum, and rolling out a fingernail or toe for eternity.

The full-length world premiere, "This Is the Story of a Girl in a World," comprises of five contrasting works aiming to explore the blurred line of gender. Perhaps the most transcendent of these otherwise discrete puzzle pieces is "Snap," where a male and a female appear in silence only bearing black underwear. Together they hand their previous garments to a stage manager, who casually parades across the proscenium, before taking their pose.

"Ahhh," they yell simultaneously, startling the sexy silence surrounding them. Moving into images and phrases of feminine influence – limp wrists, abducted shoulders, suggestive facial expressions – their synchronization within abstract movement enhances the uniformity of gender. Interspersed with brief cries and shouts, the beat of their breath is sensuous.

"Beauty and the Brut" is less overt. Movement is trumped by the original contemporary score by Fischerspooner, an art-pop duo whose electric music mixes with vocals narrating a story of a French girl meeting a "freaky guy" at a beach.

Petronio's 2006 work "Bloom" is more aesthetically pleasing than the two world premieres. Beginning with members of the Young People's Chorus of New York City walking ominously up the aisles of the theater while humming a capella, the dance proceeds rather solemnly against a navy blue backdrop. The elements mesh into a more subdued, accessible experience unlike the rest of the evening.
Beauty and the Brut: Shila Tirabassi, Jonathan Jaffe, Mandy Kirschner, Julian De Leon

Beauty and the Brut: Shila Tirabassi, Jonathan Jaffe, Mandy Kirschner, Julian De Leon

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Woltmann


Beauty and the Brut: Shila Tirabassi and Jonathan Jaffe

Beauty and the Brut: Shila Tirabassi and Jonathan Jaffe

Photo © & courtesy of Chris Woltmann

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