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Jennifer Muller's Evolution through Dance: Momentum

by Sima Shapiro
June 9, 2009
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011
212-242-0800

Featured Dance Company:

Jennifer Muller | The Works
Jennifer Muller | The Works Studio
131 West 24th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10011
212.691.3803
www.jmtw.org

Last Tuesday evening (June 9), I saw three dances performed by Jennifer Muller's dance company, The Works, at the Joyce Theater. Although the focus of this review will be on the third performance titled Momentum, I believe it is important to briefly discuss the other two dances to assist the framing of my review of Momentum.

I felt as if all three dances shared a theme: evolution. The first dance, Tub, focused on water as an essential element of humankind. It outlined how all life forms begin in the ocean (represented by the tub) and slowly evolved to beings who are still dependent on water, but do not need to live within it. Thus, the dance portrayed one aspect of the scientific modern theory of evolution.

The second dance, Bench, concentrated on the evolution of the relationship between humankind and the environment. Most of the dance presented the various negative interactions with which humans have engaged the environment. However, it ended with the hope that such interactions will evolve into a more environmentally positive relationship.

The third dance, Momentum, appeared to present the evolution of Jennifer Muller as a choreographer. At first, there was a lone dancer, Pascal Rekoert, trying out some steps and making some mistakes. This represented Ms. Muller's foray into the world of dance. She was attempting to create her own steps, making some mistakes, but continuing to work on her steps.

Mr. Rekoert continues to dance the steps as other dancers enter the stage and dance their steps. At times, some of the other dancers laugh at Mr. Rekoert's dancing. At other times, Mr. Rekoert stops dancing to watch the other dancers. This segment of the performance represents Ms. Muller's attempts to publicly reveal her choreography as well as develop it by watching other choreographers' dances. Unfortunately, her choreography receives some ridicule, but Ms. Muller continues to pursue her own form of dance. However, there also appears times when Ms. Muller is despondent and ready to surrender her choreography career. When this occurs, someone steps in to persuade Ms. Muller to continue her work as a choreographer. This is represented by Mr. Rekoert suddenly stopping his dancing, sitting on the floor, and staring downwards. Another dancer will come to his aid, pick him up and convince Mr. Rekoert to dance again.

This segment is repeated often; however, each time it is repeated, there is a decreasing amount of both ridicule and moments when Mr. Rekoert stops dancing. In addition, each time this segment repeats, Mr. Rokoert's steps slowly evolve and more dancers begin to follow Mr. Rekoert's steps. In the end, the entire dance company is dancing the same steps as Mr. Rekoert, with Mr. Rekoert in the lead. The end represents both Ms. Muller's acceptance by the dance community as well as her forming her own dance company, The Works. Ms. Muller has evolved into an experienced and acclaimed choreographer.

I thoroughly enjoyed Momentum. Watching it gave me a sense of what it takes to be a successful choreographer. I also felt as if I gained a personal connection to Ms. Muller. Not only was an aspect of Ms. Muller's life revealed; so was an aspect of her personality. This dance was energetic and fun, with just a touch of pain. The dancers were in constant motion, except the few moments when Mr. Rekoert became despondent. When Mr. Rekoert danced, he smiled and laughed at himself when he made mistakes. Through thick and thin, with just a little help, he continued to dance his steps. Ms. Muller is thus portrayed as a person full of life, who perseveres, who can feel pain when inflicted by others, and can accept others' love and support when offered. Momentum both allowed us, the audience, to share an aspect of Ms. Muller's personal evolution as well as obtain an insight into her as a human being.
Jennifer Muller|The Works' <i>Bench</i> (l to r) Susanna Bozzetti, Abdul Latif, Elizabeth Disharoon, Pascal Rekoert, Jen Peters, Josiah Guitian

Jennifer Muller|The Works' Bench
(l to r) Susanna Bozzetti, Abdul Latif, Elizabeth Disharoon, Pascal Rekoert, Jen Peters, Josiah Guitian

Photo © & courtesy of Ben Hider

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