Friday, January 20, 2012

Into the woods with Keely Garfield

"To Be Clear:," dancer-choreographer Keely Garfield writes in her program notes, "Twin Pines is presented in two parts--Stump and Flesh--presented consecutively and without an intermission because one thing leads to another..."

One fairly vivid, if incomprehensible, thing does lead to another in this surreal, Zen-ish ramble through an Inner Forest crowded with tree stumps, charged gestures, old pop songs moodily altered by harmonium drones, Kabuki theatrics, and a "bowl of cherries" life that we shouldn't take too serious because it is mysterious. I'm going to leave the oddball mystery of Twin Pines to your discovery; the curious, multilayered contents of Garfield's head are quite a lot to unpack. But a few things really brightened the hour for me last evening at Danspace Project.

I find myself resisting the strained, tight-spring look of Garfield's own dancing--it tells the tale, for sure, if perhaps too well--but I deeply enjoy how she seizes on simple objects and visual ideas the way a child might grab whatever's laying around at home and magically turn these modest items into ambitious theater. As a fantasist, she could not have a better crew of mindful collaborators than her lighting designer, Kathy Kaufmann, her fellow dancers, Anthony PhillipsBrandin Steffensen and Omagbitse Omagbeni, and the quietly enchanting folk singer-songwriter Matthew Brookshire, described on as "somewhere between a ukelele-playing Jeff Buckley and a sober Shane McGowan."

Watch for a wonderfully-crafted duet of unison dancing between Phillips and Steffensen and another beautifully-performed duet between Omagbeni and Steffensen that introduces air and buoyancy at the moment that the dance greatly needs some spaciousness.

Twin Pines continues at Danspace Project tonight and Saturday evening at 8pm. For information and tickets, click here.

Danspace Project
St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery
131 East 10th Street (at Second Avenue), Manhattan

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