Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cheering at The Joyce

What's the deal with that reported Google-sponsored free WiFi in Chelsea? I hoped to post my FOCUS DANCE observations and thoughts to Facebook and Twitter at intermission, but all I could find was a "Joyce Public" connection that hung for hours every time I typed just a few characters. Crazy.

Last night's presentation of Camille A. Brown & Dancers and Brian Brooks Moving Company at the APAP-targeted FOCUS DANCE at The Joyce got the audience cheering so vociferously I began to wonder if I hadn't slipped into a wormhole and ended up at City Center's Fall For Dance festival instead. The cheering sounded a little pre-planned, shall we say?

I will cheer, though--and loudly--for a couple of solos from this program.

Brian Brooks presented I'm Going to Explode, a signature piece from 2007 where the choreographer steps out (and flips out) of his character's mundane, buttoned-down existence and splinters into rapid-fire, thrashing, punishing movement. It's an amazing performance of physical control and endurance, one I never tire of seeing, just as I never tire of its accompanying music--"Losing My Edge" by LCD Soundsystem. (Yeah, I'm losing my edge...The kids are coming up from behind...the kids from France and from London, but I was there...I was there when Captain Beefheart started up his first band. I told him, "Don't do it that way. You'll never make a dime."...But have you seen my records?...Gil! Scott! Heron!)

Brown's half of the show also featured a distinguished solo--The Real Cool, an excerpt from her ensemble piece, Mr. TOL E. RAncE (2012). The solo works as a standalone item. Like Brooks, Brown has superb control of timing, weight, every last movement in this meditation on Black performing artists and stereotypical representations. A dancer with legendary skill and presence, Brown turns her character into a full-body mask. Its intelligent, fiery and sorrowful human spirit seems to float a few feet back from this animated shell. Eerie.

Other highlights on the bill: Brown's fun and feisty Been There, Done That (2010) duet with lovable Jule D. Lane (a Jacob's Pillow crowd-pleaser that, yes, this talented duo should work the hell out of as long as they can) and Brooks's duet, Fall Falls, some attractive, if inconsequential, slippery-do and swirling around with Wendy Whelan which exploits her malleable qualities without giving her much of a point for being there except to be Wendy Whelan, surely wonderful to indulge in (as dancemaker and as audience) but which, in the end, does not satisfy.

For information on the remaining FOCUS DANCE programs through January 13 at the Joyce--Rosie Herrera Dance Theater, Doug Varone and Dancers, Eiko & Koma and John Jasperse--click here and here.

The Joyce Theater
Eighth Avenue at 19th Street, Manhattan

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