Thursday, April 5, 2012

Beller's house of stories

Excerpt from other stories

How many times have I seen versions of other stories? I forget, but it's likely at least three now with the opening of Alexandra Beller/Dances' 10th Anniversary season last evening at Joyce SoHo. And, of course, no matter how many times other stories is seen, it will always be different according to which guest--chosen from among contemporary dance's most fascinating artists--has been tapped to catalyze the current performance.

As described by the company, the game plays out like this: "Each performance is a high stakes event featuring a pivotal, improvisational performance by a guest artist who has rehearsed minimally, if at all, with the company." Yeah, bring it.

Last night, that catalyst was Jennifer Nugent, a lithe, springy, Puckish spirit of vitality and fun. Some of her best moments came near the end of other stories, as she returned to a circle of the dancers, scattering them and, to my mind, dispersing the mystifying fog of gestures and juxtapositions, mosaics of story fragments, dream-like driftings and memories constructed through lush, sensitive choreography and Martijn Hart's beautiful filmwork.

other stories, for me, inspires unconditional love, the way one takes a good friend to heart, accepting that there will always be things about that person that cannot be fully known or comprehended. This seems to be a dance about just that--opening with Hart's videocamera focused on one corner of a lovely Flatiron District building and a couple, just behind its large windows, holding a conversation that we cannot hear. The camera zooms in close but to no avail. We will never grasp what is being said nor know its history or current context. We're left to project interpretations onto the couple's body language and gestures.

We do much of the same throughout other stories with its plethora of imagery. When we hear words, they merely fan out in the general direction of something that we can only imagine out of our own personal experiences: "This is the only place that makes me laugh," or "This is the space that will not close," or the disjointed recounting of a medical history, audibly redacted. We watch inexplicable expressions wash over the face of one or another dancer; the look is soon wiped away, replaced by another or...nothing. It feels as if we're being plunged into the life recall or dreams of not just one person but a whole tribe, simultaneously.

So, of course, it's not going to make sense. And, of course, it makes sense.

Have I mentioned that I love it?

Dancing by Beller, Lea Fulton, Toni Melaas, Kendra Porter, Edward Rice and Simon Thomas-Train plus the evening's guest artist. Original music composed and performed live by Robert Poss. Lighting by Amanda K. Ringger. Costumes by Karen Young. Set design by Brian Ireland.

See other stories at Joyce Soho through April 21. There will be also be a 10th Anniversary Celebration on Friday, April 13. For season schedule details and ticketing, click here.

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

1 comment:

Catherine L. Tully said...

Lovely. Wish I could have been there.

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