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Buglisi Dance Theatre - Wild Mannequins and Wing Walkers, Frida, Suspended Women, Interplay No. 9-1, Threshold

by Marian Horosko
February 8, 2009
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011
212-242-0800
Buglisi Dance Theatre opened its 15th season on February 3-8 at the Joyce Theater, 19th and Eighth Avenue. This company, led by choreographer Jacqulyn Buglisi, is one of the foremost modern dance groups, with vigorous ideas inspired by art, poetry and heroic archetypes.

Buglisi is daring, with hypnotic and perceptive insights into the human condition.

This season, Buglisi turns her witty observations into a new work: "Wild Mannequins and Wing Walkers" to a commissioned score by Wynne Bennett. Program A included "Frida" (Kahlo); one of Buglisi's signature pieces, "Suspended Women;" and the New York premiere of "Interplay No. 9-1" to short, familiar piano works by Scriabin and Chopin.

"Interplay No. 9-1" got off to an energetic start with piano accompaniment vigorously played by Melody Fader. Members of the company visualized the intent of each piece, not literally, but emotionally. Helen Hanson in her solo to a fugue, once again proved herself a member of high stature. In this work, Buglisi's craft serves her well as she matches the musical choices to her company members. Lyricism dominates as a good opening work on a program…sentiment, unusual for this choreographer, seeped in here and there, probably because the work is dedicated to the memory of her brother, Joseph.

"Wild Mannequins & Wing Walkers" as a world premiere, required a program description by Buglisi: "A world, perhaps, where reality and the absurd collide, a metaphor for our time." Elaborately dressed dancers wandered about for an overly long time to music of SoundScape.

Guest artist Martine Van Hamel, a distinguished ballerina and frequent guest artist of the company, always attracts attention by her making the most of almost nothing to do except be poised and marvelously dressed. The work, however, needs redesigning.

The high point of the season, was the repeat of Buglisi's pas de deux, (1991) "Threshold" with Virginie Mécène and Kevin Predmore. Both dancers had performed in JBDT's early works and still perform with the Martha Graham company. "Threshold" is riveting with its intertwining lifts, emotionally and sexually charged undertow and breath-holding descents from perilous heights. Only this company, with its Graham technique and mantra of "being present in the moment," would be able to attempt this work.
Helen Hansen in Buglisi Dance Theatre's Mannikins

Helen Hansen in Buglisi Dance Theatre's Mannikins

Photo © & courtesy of Kristin Linder

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