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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Performance Reviews
The Duke on 42nd Street
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Andrew Jannetti & Dancers

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 3, 2003
The Duke on 42nd Street
229 West 42 Street
New York, NY 10036
(646) 223-3042

About the Author:

Andrew Jannetti & Dancers

PO Box 350
NY, NY 10012-0006

Andrew Jannetti, Choreographer
Christalyn Wright, Guest Choreographer
Judith Daitsman, Pat Dignan, Barry Steele,
Lighting Designers
Jennifer Brightbill, Suzanne Gallo, Ellen Malhke,
Costume Designers
Beth Chervenak, Stage Manager and Sound Engineer
Kenneth Freeman and Jeanine Galvin, Stage Hands
Andrea Wirz, Guest Performer

Publicity: Audrey Ross

Presented at The Duke on 42nd Street
229 West 42nd St, NY, NY
Part of New 42nd Street Studios

Review by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 3, 2003

Andrew Jannetti & Dancers was founded in 1982. Mr. Jannetti has choreographed more than 30 works for his own company and for companies and festivals around the world. His current company includes six dancers, plus guests. Jannetti's signature motif is to create a human experience, onstage, with form and movement. Mr. Jannetti is from South Philadelphia. He studied dance in NY with Nikolais/Louis, Erick Hawkins, Cindi Green, the José Limón Institute (See Zlokower and Abrams Limón Reviews), and Besse Schönberg.

Much Ado (Premiere): Original Score by Marty Beller, Trumpet: Probyn Gregory, Performed by the Company and Reunited Guests, Costumes by the Dancers. This piece, which is multi-generational and unites dancers from past companies with the current and future dancers, is a look at Jannetti's choreography over the years. The actual piece is rehearsed four times and has a changing cast of 18-24 dancers. The dancers have contributed one Jannetti movement that they recall, and Mr. Jannetti has woven them together into one work. (Company Notes).

This is an electronic and peppy piece, hustle music with a new age twist. The blue backdrop, costumes of black pants and colorful tank tops or T-shirts, and images of stillness in bright light, like a fixed image or memory of a smaller ensemble of mixed ages, are all extremely effective in creating a 20-year Reunion retrospective.

Nightshades (1996): Original Score by Marty Beller, Live Percussion: Marty Beller, Vocals: David Driver, Performed by Julie Betts, Beth Disharoon, Rachel Lane, Jenny Mendez, Lauren Naslund, and Julia Pond, Costumes by Noemie Lafrance. With a live percussionist, this very interesting piece, performed by women only, combines a new age wailing sound with the drums and symbols. This was a very electric piece, danced in pink and lavender tights, with effective, pink spotlights and flowing choreography. I would have liked to see, however, a much more severe and focused expression on the dancers, some of whom did not appear to be in character to the required mood.

Isolation: 2 excerpts (1992): Need: Original Score by Ed Waters, Performed Solo by Andrew Jannetti, Desire: Music by Egberto Gismonti, Performed by Andrew Jannetti and Andreas Wirz, Costumes by Andrew Jannetti. Mr. Janetti, however, is always in character, and this was a volatile and evocative pair of dances, one of longing and one of togetherness, with a decidedly homoerotic quality. Mr. Jannetti's solo was a writhing piece, with an animalistic search for a partner. The second, partnered work was one of completion and seduction. In fact, Mr. Jannetti and Mr. Wirz rolled on the floor, reaching toward each other, sometimes in mirrored images, as if they were in a private space, emotionally and physically secure. The casual costumes were appropriate to the theme.

Isolation - Andrew Janetti
Photo courtesy of Lynn Robertson

Outsider (2000): Original Score by Marty Beller, Soprano Saxophone and Clarinet: Peter Kiesewalter, Sound Engineer: Carl Royce, Performed by Julie Betts, Beth Disharoon, Andrew Jannetti, Adam MacLean, Jenny Mendez, Lauren Naslund, and Julia Pond, Costumes by Jennifer Brightbill. This was a fascinating score, with electronic music combined with a Clarinet and a Saxophone. I would also like to note, at this point, that the lighting design of all pieces was extremely well conceived. In this particular work, sections of stage were mapped out by deep yellow spotlights. The lighting design changed to a textured effect, which added to the ambiance, an addition most welcome, as the Duke has a stark and casual feel onstage and in the audience.

The women danced behind Mr. Jannetti in this piece, like a Greek Chorus that announced the mood of the moment. This was a dance of self-expression, as Mr. Jannetti and Mr. MacLean danced in a style, usually reserved for a male and female partnership. Mr. Jannetti's tank top and slacks were most effective as he initially walked a yellow runway, like a male model on public view. Later this costume served to heighten the tension in his expressive partnering. I would also like to note that Ms. Naslund is an extremely skilled dancer, and seems to work very well around Mr. Jannetti in all thematic and choreographed roles.

Puddle Bumps (1993): Choreography Assistants: Barbara Crosio and Lauren Naslund, Original Score: Ascent at Maski, by Ronnie Cusmano, Performed by Julie Betts, Beth Disharoon, and Jenny Mendez, Costumes by Ellen Mahlke. With green lights, black costumes, and a green backdrop, this campy piece was about three friends. The physicality in this piece contrasted sharply with the previous piece, as there was no tension or chemistry, just an intertwining of friends, very symbolic of female bonding. This was a colorful and upbeat work, with the backdrop changing from green to yellow to red. All Jannetti pieces are danced barefoot, and this one had an effective primitive quality, with athletic imagery.

Whisper (1995): Original Sound Score by Ronnie Cusmano, Poetry by Ken Freeman, Performed by Andrew Jannetti, Voices: Kathy Enders, Andrew Jannetti, Glen Loiacono, and Lauren Naslund, Costume by Suzanne Gallo. Jannetti has an intense focus, and this piece was actually disturbing at times. There was whispered poetry in the background, something about the softness of kitten whiskers and other similar images. This dance seemed to be about the nature of love, loss, and death. Jannetti, in a gray unitard, used a whispering motion with his arm and finger, put to his mouth, which was repeated intermittently. For me, this piece was too severe. However, there was a cathartic emotionality, which played against the poetry and allusions of softness.

Water Cello Dreams (Premiere): Music: Bach Cello Suite in E flat Major, interpreted by Pablo Casals, Costumes by Jennifer Brightbill, Performed by the Company. It was nice to hear Pablo Casals on solo cello (See Casals on the Web). The female dancers, in purple and green costumes, some ruffled and textured, interacted in a minor way with Mr. Jannetti, except for Lauren Naslund. Ms. Naslund performed a highly skilled solo and seemed to relate well to Mr. Jannetti, and their duo was connected and charismatic. Something about the choreography in this work was reminiscent of the Paul Taylor Company (See Taylor Reviews, 3/8/03, 3/21/03). The arms sailing in the wind and the large, twirling leaps and lifts to the music of Bach were Tayloresque in the visual and emotional imagery.

All in all, this was a very long but quality program, in the midst of 42nd Street, on a very busy Saturday night. It was well worth the effort, and I look forward to hearing about Andrew Jannetti & Dancers in the future. My only suggestions may be to tighten and shorten the program, save the lighting design pauses for intermission, and work on the seriousness of attitude and focus of some of the female dancers, who seemed a bit out of character. With maturity and practice, these dancers, too, will grow into professional and multi-talented dancers, such as Lauren Naslund and Andrew Jannetti. Kudos to Mr. Jannetti for his incredible talents and energy.

Unforgiven - Andrew Janetti & Lauren Naslund
Photo courtesy of Susan Cook

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