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Mila Gorokhovich
Performance Reviews
Joyce Soho
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

The Printz Dance Project: Outstanding Innovative Spirit in Contemporary Dance

by Mila Gorokhovich
August 3, 2003
Joyce Soho
155 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10012

The Printz Dance Project: Outstanding Innovative Spirit in Contemporary Dance

Presented at the Joyce SoHo, New York

Mila Gorokhovich
August 3, 2003

When I go to see a dance performance of modern choreography, I typically expect something quite abstract and unusual. It is often difficult for me to relate to the dance, let alone understand its meaning and so I end up feeling puzzled at what I saw even if the dancer is technically very talented. Thus, I was not sure what to expect when I went to see the Printz Dance Project on Sunday, August 3 at the Joyce SoHo Theater.

The Printz Dance Project (PDP) is a fusion dance company that blends techniques of modern, jazz, hip-hop and ethnic dancing to present a variety of themes in human life. Founded by Stacey Printz, the company is currently in their fifth season and continues to perform self-produced shows, participate in various dance festivals and shared evenings around their local Bay Area (San Francisco, CA). Ms. Printz's choreography not only combines a plethora of different dance forms, but it also manages to easily reach out to the audience and establish a connection with anyone - dancer or not. I found that the movements were particularly innovative just as they are intense and fascinating to watch.

The evening consisted of seven pieces; because each piece used a different style of music and the choreography fitted quite well, I never felt tired of watching the 8 person ensemble. Each piece seemed to tell a story and although one could use his/her imagination to conceive the meaning of the dance, it was clear that Ms. Printz had a specific vision that she wanted to bring across. Prejudice, decision-making, life changes and society's constructive bind on people were a few themes that Ms. Printz aimed to bring out in her work. However, the choreography was exciting and diverse in so many ways that it could easily appeal to anyone's imagination.

All of the pieces were previously performed work except "Shift", a premiere to rhythmic beats from the "Requiem for a Dream" soundtrack, Karsh Kale and Omar Faruk Tekbilek. The dancers worked around two green boards on the ground and it seemed as if they were constantly trying to help each other around the boards. I recognized some elements of Graham technique as the strong upper bodies moved in very fluid and free motions. Yet the four dancers displayed vivid energy and sharpness in their steps to the funky beats of the music. The entire piece was very dynamic and interesting to watch - the dancers' ability to work together and maintain synchronicity was especially visible.

"Lifeline" is an appropriate name for the third piece of the evening as it used shock ropes to portray boundaries and human interactions throughout the course of life. The shock rope, the set and the prop, symbolized a blood line that all humans are part of. A Quartet for Strings was the music, composed specifically for the five-movement piece by Bruce Cameron Munson. Although I found that at times, the movements seemed at odds with the music, the idea was extremely original and the dancers' motions constantly changed, weaving through the ropes that stretched in cross-shape across the stage. Sometimes they (the dancers) pulled at the lifeline, sometimes they pushed and overall, it was clear that the dance was a play on life. When the ropes came apart in the end, each dancer came out in a final creative solo - intense, athletic and dynamic - to sum up the essence of the dance.

An excerpt from 0-10 in 17 (2002) was a gem of the evening, with the first section - "The Race" a roller coaster journey through some sort of Matrix-like space. Stacey Printz and Alissa Pearce were the only dancers in this section and I would venture to say that this one section truly reveals the extraordinary dynamite spirit of Ms. Printz's choreography. A mix of break-dancing elements and hip-hop generate this powerful dance to excerpts from the Swordfish soundtrack. Alissa Pearce was especially effective in her razor-sharp, quick movements full of extreme intensity and passion. Both dancers moved solely diagonally across the stage in spotlight that lit a diagonal lane for them, dressed in black "wheel costumes" (resemble factory workers' outfits in the movies). With their steel, cold, uniform expressions, pulled back hair and synchronized movements, they almost gave the impression that they were a mirror image of one another. Ms. Printz created this fast-paced, fierce piece as commentary on Western society's principle that more + faster = better. So the two dancers symbolize this assumption in their severely rapid movements to the electric beats.

"From These Mountains" was a relaxing experience, a dive into a Hawaiian paradise. Each dancer wore a thin-layered dress or skirt of a marine green and yellow blend and the music was traditional Hawaiian Slat-key Guitar. Ms. Printz incorporated ethnic Hawaiian movements into the artistic piece: fluid, graceful arms, big smiles and swaying hips were all a part of this dance, in addition to some modern technique. One can picture giant palm trees and the rush of ocean waves as the guitar melody started slowly and was eventually joined by rhythmic drumbeats. Yet again, I must comment on the exceptionally inventive choreography - rarely did movements seem to repeat and even when they did, it was a pleasure to the eye.

The evening concluded with "Inside Out", an emotional solo danced by Stacey Printz and "L7," a powerful piece set on two plastic box shaped frames that stand approximately 10 or 12 ft high. The latter is of particular interest as it really reaches out to the mind's eye. The six dancers are split into three in each frame and dance within the frame the majority of the time. Eventually, only two of them come out - Stacey Printz and Alissa Pearce - and ultimately, all of them manage to come out of the box. The original idea can symbolize many themes, but Printz's vision was to depict the escape from narrow-mindedness that many people are trapped in. This one-way sight is something that Printz experienced herself and portrayed in this final dance by using the plastic frames. The dancers grasped at the frames while inside and used them in their movements. A hole in one of the frames made it possible for the dancers to climb out of the box, representing an actual "thinking outside of the box" frame of mind.

The performance was a unique compellation of movements, rhythms and expression unlike any dancing I have ever seen. The dancers were all very talented not only technically but also in their capability to really breathe each piece and make it come to life. Ms. Printz has done a superb job in exploring outside the box and inside her own mind to produce such original and thought provoking work.

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