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Lori Ortiz
Performance Reviews
Baryshnikov Arts Center
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Othershore— "small earthquakes along the way," "Lift," "The Snow Falls in the Winter"

by Lori Ortiz
October 9, 2008
Baryshnikov Arts Center
450 West 37th Street, Suite 501
New York, NY 10018
Choreographers: Edwaard Liang, Stacy Matthew Spence, Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar

Dancers: Sonja Kostich, Robbie Cook, Brandi Norton, and Miguel Anaya, Peter Brandenhoff
A stunning cast of contemporary dancers made their debut as a group Thursday, October 9, 2008 at BAC. Stacy Matthew Spence choreographed "small earthquakes along the way," for and with dancers Sonja Kostich, Robbie Cook, Brandi Norton, and Miguel Anaya. They begin by lounging in a loose cluster at the downstage right corner and gradually make their way in a horseshoe path, ending in the left forward quadrant.

At Jack Warren's upstage, midpoint scrim set, they pause for phrases of more turbulent movement and innovative contact in which Spence, he is a former Trisha Brown dancer, shows her signature relaxed rigor.

In trusting falls, Kostich backs onto Anaya or pushes off from him. They all reach toward the heavens in a recurring motif. It is to echoey arpeggios performed live by violinist Cornelius Dufallo, distorted via Ariana Kim's laptop. The mood is dreamy, and the piece atmospheric. This is maintained from the beginning where they lounge, entering one by one with the house lights on and the stage lights dim. Freeze-frame playful touch-and-go and Dufallo's scratchy bowing desist and then in the lull, "small…'s" inherent poetry is disturbed by the laptop's anomolous glowing apple.

Around the upstage corners , dimmed in Jennifer Tipton's nuanced lighting, the group loses us to Warren's projected moving cloud images. The dancers' direction, mood, and tempo parallel the clouds and music. At times it's hard to tell which element has the upper hand, resulting in rudderless, bland areas. The ending is simple and stunning, with Kostich exiting through a separation in the scrims as the others sit and watch. Anaya and Kostich's interactions look perfectly timed. She is a featherlight mover and both are lovely to watch. The cast wears wedgewood blue, muted lavender, or pastel shades, pajama sweats or silky babydoll tunics.

Kostich changes into a simple, firebird red similarly cut tunic for the next, odd "Lift." Norton wears a long, bulky, burgundy dress and Peter Brandenhoff and Cook are in uniform dark-colored, fitted jumpsuits. It's performed under a high-hung Mark Kostabi Painting. Edwaard Liang is the maker of "Lift." The dance-theater is a departure from any of his ballet choreography I've seen. The upstage, centered table with four seated, locking arms across it, is too cliché, but the work is engaging. The mastery is in the almost creepy drama, the dance's oblique take on the painting, and in its interesting floor patterns. Anaya wears a grey cotton unitard like one of the two figures in the painting. Kostich moves similarly to the way she moved in the previous dance. Throughout this program, the dancers' individuality is featured. Space-age music by Clint Mansell, the Kostabi, the dancers' blank faces, the repetitive, mechanical movement, and the mystery, recall the surreal paintings of Giorgio de Chirico. Anaya dances alone suggesting an alien breaking into their order.

The final work dazzlingly capped the evening. Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar's "The Snow Falls in the Winter" could be called experimental theater with a wonderful dance element. It has spoken word borrowed from Ionesco's "The Lesson," in a dance plot that riffs off the play. Characters include a lewd professor (Anaya) who when seated, raises his smooth bare feet and rubs them together. Kostich is a diligent young pupil in a grey smock; Elizabeth DeMent, a trenchant maidservant. Rosalynde LeBlanc narrates at first and gets tangled in her microphone wire when she gets up to roam and dance. They double each other and plot, character, sound and dance get abstract and mesmerizingly jumbled. Parson's choreography is tuned to these dancers strengths, as if "The Snow.." was built around them. It releases us with humor while its its twisting satire satisfies.

The program grew more and more interesting and fun— out-of-the-ordinary. Lliang, Tipton, who lighted the three works, and all these first-class artists risked and challenged. It was foment on public display and polished cutting edge.
Miguel Anaya and Sonja Kostich in 'The Snow...'

Miguel Anaya and Sonja Kostich in "The Snow..."

Photo © & courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

Sonja Kostich and Miguel Anaya in 'small earthquakes...'

Sonja Kostich and Miguel Anaya in "small earthquakes..."

Photo © & courtesy of Julieta Cervantes

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