Friday, December 7, 2012

doug elkins choreography, etc. at Baryshnikov Arts Center

The theater at Baryshnikov Arts Center was totally packed for the New York premiere of Mo(or)town/Redux, presented by doug elkins choreography, etc. So, while I can't tell you if you'll be able to get in, do try. You get Elkins's exhilarating Scott, Queen of Marys into the bargain--a cocktail blend of Scottish dancing, voguing, capoeira moves and more, first seen in 1994 but ever-fresh with a fine cast that includes very cool/on fire Javier Ninja. Seventy minutes all told, the two-dance program makes quite a very neat package for your weekend.

In the ingenious Mo(or)town/Redux, Elkins brings both Shakespeare's Othello and José Limon's The Moor's Pavane into the age of Motown and soul music. Kyle Marshall plays the Othello figure like a tall, dignified Black athlete; Donnell Oakley, his treasured Desdemona in high spirits and with bright energy just oozing from every pore. Alexander Dones and Cori Marquis--scheming Iago and his dupe, Emilia--make another sexy couple. Elkin's choreography references the lively use of space and the quartet and duet court dance patterns Limon skillfully employed as well as Limon's clever, ultimately treacherous business with a now-you-see-it, now-you-don't handkerchief--all of this arranged against a soundscape Black music hits of the '60s.

The carefully selected music--not the original versions of songs like "Tears of A Clown" and "Just My Imagination," of course--is effective, if borderline obvious and actually my least favorite element in this piece. The choreography rolls out so suave and delicious, the dancers so deft, that I think Elkins could tell the Othello story just as well without the overlay of well-known lyrics. Best of all, these dancers--especially, Oakley and the sensational Dones, who clearly loves dancing so much he can't seem to help making villainous Iago downright appealing--work out with such natural truth that they can draw you right into the dance. Not just great moves well done: This thing is alive, baby!
doug elkins choreography, etc. continues its BAC run tonight and Saturday at 7:30pm. For information and tickets, click here.

Baryshnikov Arts Center
450 West 37th Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues), Manhattan

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