Friday, December 4, 2015

Andrea Miller's "W H A L E" of a company at the Joyce

Members of Andrea Miller's Gallim Dance Company in W H A L E
Daniel Staaf (lower left), Austin Tyson (middle),
Paul Vickers (lower right)
(photo: Yi-Chun Wu)
Daniel Staaf, Georgia Usborne, Austin Tyson,
Matthew Perez, Paul Vickers, Gwyneth Mac
(photo: Yi-Chun Wu)

I'm wondering why contemporary dance is not nearly as popular as science fiction. After all, each time dancers take to a stage or performance space, a new world is created with its own inhabitants, culture(s), rules, language(s), questions and challenges. There really can't be that much of a divide between sci fi nerds and dance nerds, and I know there's some overlap.

Anyway, all that's to say, choreographer Andrea Miller  of Gallim Dance Company creates one helluva world out of her time on the Joyce Theater's stage. She also has a valiant troupe of players--Celine D'hont, Allysen HooksGwyn Mackenzie, Matthew Perez, Daniel StaafAustin Tyson, Georgia Usborne and Paul Vickers--who must love her enough to accept the scary assignments she gives them. Seriously, my heart was in my mouth half the time as I watched the wildly impassioned and danger-courting moves in her new evening-length work, W H A L E.

In a program note, Miller revealed the source of the show's title:
Matteo, our 2 year old son, wakes up in the middle of any given night pointing at the darkness, singing the world whale, as if one of these endangered mammals he loves lives in our apartment. W H A L E is dedicated to love in darkness and in light.
Matteo, it seems, also knows about alternate worlds that are also here on earth right now. What a wonderful thing!

(Top to Bottom) Austin Tyson, Daniel Staaf
(photo: Yi-Chun Wu)

The overall strangeness and emotional impact of W H A L E might benefit from a more condensed structure, eliminating the 20-minute intermission that jettisons viewers out of its world and, temporarily, out of its grip. Hold us in our seats and in that space with the id on the loose in its many manifestations--with all of the vulnerability, the unleashed exuberance, the careless aggression, the awkward, desperate need, the breathing light and breathing dark, the full catastrophe.

With help from Jordan Chiolis's music (performed live) and Nicole Pearce's lighting, waves of psychological weather pass across the stage as they pass through life and relationships. One male dancer's nudity is just one (and the most obvious) example of Miller's refusal to be delicate and of her company's bravery. Gather up your own courage, and go.

W H A L E continues through Sunday, December 6. Click here for your tickets.

The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (corner of 19th Street), Manhattan

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