Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Women on the move at Dixon Place

It was heartening to see Dixon Place filled to the rafters with audience last night. How amazing to watch as DP--home of "go ahead, show us anything, take a chance, even be a little half-assed"--became the site of some very grown-up performance. And how gratifying to see that work coming from the women dance artists of "Women Moving," part of DP's HOT! Festival.

The evening featured short pieces by

Maria Bauman/MBDance (Women I Know)

Ephrat Asherie ("brothers," a work-in-progress)

Jen Abrams (Any Resemblance, an excerpt from a work-in-progress)

as well as a more extended movement/text solo for the renowned LAVA acrobat-aerialist Diana Y Greiner, created with playwright Lauren M Feldman. I regret that this was a one-night only program, but don't fail to keep an eye out for another chance to see these artists and their work.

Bauman, who has danced for choreographers such as Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Nia Love and Bill T. Jones, is an up-and-coming force of her own. In Women I Know, set to gentle, lyrical guitar played live by Ashley Phillips, Bauman dances a portfolio of studies juxtaposed with a montage of photo portraits by BJ Watkins. Each seeks, clearly, to suggest the essence of their many subjects. As a choreographer Bauman expresses this humanistic insight with the blend of strength, suppleness and flow that her training in capoeira has given her.

The slight, sinewy Asherie (aka Bounce) blew the audience away with her handsomely-arranged and expert breaking, club dancing and vogueing. Simply put, it's great to see a woman completely own the floor: not just be capable of these dance styles but actually nail every challenge of timing, accuracy of detail, flow and theatrical presentation that she has set for herself. This solo might be a work-in-progress, but I think the only work left to be done would be for Asherie to add more because we would probably be content to watch her forever.

Abrams's solo, on the other hand, really does look like an excerpt-in-progress. So far, this meditation on our hyper-cyber age has a couple of interesting points--some intermittently strange gestures and facial movements and an ethereal accompaniment, delicious to the ear and produced in a clever way that I will not reveal here. Abrams leaves us, perhaps, with an unsettled feeling of something, or perhaps, someone deteriorating, dissolving into electronic blips falling through space.

Greiner is like a stage magician skilled at misdirection. Or maybe she's more like a spider--forgive me, Julie Taymor--skilled at snaring audiences in a web made of alarming props, gutsy physicality, a gift for gab and a heart-stopping smile. In either case, unless you know her personal story--which, after a lengthy bit of weaving, she gets to when you least expect it--there's no way to be prepared for the journey of Now/Not Now or Just on the Corner of Walk/Don't Walk. Again, on the chance that you will see this piece, I won't reveal more. At times, this solo feels needlessly overextended. However, it is not only crafted and performed with impressive maturity and style but performed with confidence.

Hot! Festival 2011--Dixon Place's 20th Annual NYC Celebration of Queer Culture--continues through August 6 with a mix of "theater, dance, music, burlesques, performance art and homoeroticism for the whole family." Find out more and make ticket reservations here.

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

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