Friday, May 6, 2011

Finwall premieres EVENFALL at Joyce SoHo

Alyce Finwall Dance Theater, from San Francisco, presented the world premiere of its first evening-length work last night at Joyce SoHo. A vigorously performed, if mysterious, piece for eight women, EVENFALL lasts just under an hour and will be remembered best for the atmosphere created by Andrea Williams (video) and Finwall and Joe Landini (lighting).

Inspired by the moody, betwixt/between time following sunset, EVENFALL is chock full of movement for its capable octet in a space first lit by a single light carried by one dancer drifting along within a group of her colleagues, all of them dressed in abbreviated black outfits. This cluster slowly, silently orbits a rock-still dancer dressed in pale underwear. The lantern-like light dramatically illuminates her face and body. A video projects smudgy masses flickering on either side of the space as she begins a stretchy, scrunchy solo, later joined by one and then more dancers under an elegant constellation of cherry-red lights that dangle overhead.

Such a poetic environment could call forth choreography of equal interest, with a focused purpose and development over time. However, Finwall's almost nonstop chain of movements mostly fills the 55 minutes without sufficiently articulating the movements' connection to the environment or their reason for being. I'm not sure I saw a clear investigation of "femininity, identity, innocence and nakedness" that publicity previewed, although there was an oft-repeated bit of business around swiftly stripping off pieces of the black clothing from one's partner and then each partner getting re-dressed. I saw dancers efficiently doing what they do, but I suspect there's a lot of experience encoded in Finwall's sequences that has been diluted and abstracted down to a level that, while fine to look at, may no longer be readable and meaningful to the outside eye.

One striking passage stands out from this fairly even ground. A pair of dancers face each other, make esoteric hand gestures--which one writer, reviewing an early version of EVENFALL, likened to American Sign Language--and aggressively paw at each other. This happens a couple of times, if I recall, with these two and another pair. It's rather like an animal encountering and batting away at its mirror image, thinking it's attacking prey. Now that's interesting.

With a soundscore by Carson Whitley. Dancing by Julia Hollas, Emmaly Wiederholt, Joy Prendergast, Malinda Lavelle, Kaitlin Parks, Emily Jones, Madelyn Biven and Maggie Stack 

EVENFALL continues tonight and tomorrow at 8pm.

Information and ticketing 

Joyce SoHo
155 Mercer Street (between Houston and Prince Streets), Manhattan

Directions: N/R/W to Prince, B/D/F/M to Broadway/Lafayette or 6 to Bleecker

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