Wednesday, August 15, 2012

FringeNYC: Yin Yue's "We Have Been Here Before"

I found myself longing for something as I watched We Have Been Here Before performed by Yin Yue Dance Company--a sense of why. That can happen even when both choreographer and dancers show prodigious facility, as is the case here. That doesn't mean that there isn't a why--just that it might not be clear to me, one viewer. The piece ran for 50 minutes, which I figured is a reasonable amount of time to hang out with people displaying serious talent and bravery, even if I'm not sure what it's supposed to add up to beyond what the choreographer said elsewhere--that she wants to "push the limits of physical capability" and bring out deep human emotion. Those desires are not unique in dance-making.

I'll guess at a how--which is that Yin draws from her training in Chinese classical and traditional dances, applying superb flexibility and an alert complexity of timing and coordination to the contemporary dance she makes for her small ensemble. What makes her project contemporary is, in particular, its embrace of physical distortion, great stretches of crunchiness alternating with taffy-pull movement. A big, chewy meal.  

We Have Been Here Before is "beautiful ugly"--shapely and picturesque with a strain of mania running through it, beginning to end. And what dancers: able to walk, chew gum, rub their bellies and--I'm sure if you asked them--launch into some throat singing, all at the same time. I exaggerate, sure, but not by much. The work relates no story, draws no characters, and continously snaps together minute jigsaw puzzle pieces of movement that could have been plucked from the bottom of a black velvet bag in the the dark. So you've got to wonder: How did they ever memorize all of that?

For some reason, the FringeNYC program lists only five performers--Rachel Patrice Fallon, Daniel Holt, Sarah F. Parker, Nicole von Arx and Grace Whitworth--but Yin also performs late in the piece. Also watch the darkly dramatic Whitworth and often simian Holt, but all dancers serve this intriguing, diverting work quite well.

See We Have Been Here Before tonight at 7:30pm or Friday, August 17 at 2pm.

The New School for Drama Theatre
151 Bank Street, 3rd Floor (between Washington and West Streets), Manhattan


Get more information and reservations on this and other New York Fringe Festival shows here

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