Saturday, March 19, 2016

And then Boom...erang!

Matty Davis (left) and Adrian Galvin of Boomerang
(photo: Mark Davis)

Boomerang almost didn't have a show last night at Dixon Place as a packed house sat waiting for, uncertain about, the arrival of drummer Greg Saunier (of Deerhoof) from somewhere we knew not where. A man without a cellphone. A man integral to the dance because not only needed for the live accompaniment but needed as frequent partner-prop in the movement. I use that term "partner-prop" advisedly, because this is Boomerang and, as you will see, that's how things go.

So there was an embarrassed Ellie Covan (Dixon Place founder and artistic director), a quite worried Kora Radella (choreographer) and a couple of dancers who just stood there looking stunned, Matty Davis and Adrian Galvin. Covan said nothing like this had ever happened to Dixon Place and fretted about how to organize refunds, if necessary. And I began to pack up my glasses, notebook and pen when a shout went up: He's here!

Everyone sighed in relief, and out came the glasses, notebook and pen. I never quite grasped the reason for Saunier's late arrival but, at that point, I don't think anybody gave a hoot. Covan pulled out her usual introductory shpiel, this time starting off: "Is there anyone here who has not been to Dixon Place before? [beat] Well, you're never going to forget it!"

Now see, the name of the brand new piece--a Dixon Place commission, inspired by new work from writer Lewis Hyde--is Repercussion. As that tells you, the percussionist should be pretty important. You might expect a Boomerang duet of Davis and Galvin, characteristically full of equal parts roughhousing, near-erotic intimacy and acrobatic efficiency, but the hour-long piece is actually a trio driven by percussion of both the musical and the physical kind.

In the ongoing swirl of things, parts of Saunier's drum kit often get commandeered by Davis and Galvin but so does Saunier. After a while--say, when dancers' cheeks rest against the metal of a cymbal, or dancers use each others' bodies for propulsion--it becomes hard to separate human from object, dance instrument from music instrument, and so forth. (Percussionists Mixing It Up With Dancers must be the theme of the week. See my review of Rebecca Lazier's There Might Be Others.) The Boomerang gang literally entwine and lock themselves in, their motion and interactions often bizarre, primal, even brutal, their momentum with the force of weather sweeping across the Great Plains.

It's hard to pick apart the threads of skill, courage, endurance, beauty and sensitivity in all of this. They fuse, but I found the dancing sometimes taking me to ancient imagery like this:

Minoan bull-leaper
Fresco from the Palace at Knossos (17-15th centuries BC),
Heraklion Archeological Museum, Greece


and this Greek fresco I saw in Paestum in southern Italy:

The Diver (470 BC),
from the covering slab of the Tomb of the Diver
Paestum Archaeological Museum

Repercussion is an uncommon sensation--or many--only lessened by repetition of movement and relational ideas that jolt us without, in the end, taking us someplace new. In that way, it seems sealed in a circular environment. Even so, Davis and Galvin are always wonderful to see.

Repercussion continues tonight as well as next Friday and Saturday, March 25-26 at 7:30pm. For information and tickets, click here.

Dixon Place
161A Chrystie Street (between Rivington and Delancey Streets), Manhattan
(map/directions)
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