Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Brown gives "Evidence" at The Joyce

Ronald K. Brown/Evidence looks better than ever. For his season at The Joyce Theater (now through Sunday), Brown has carefully selected a retrospective of works that represent him, his unique aesthetic and his current lineup of dancers with clarity and power.

Program A, which I attended last evening, includes two confident works from 2005--the Order My Steps ensemble and the rapturous solo Ife/My Heart, with guest artist Matthew Rushing absolutely on fire--as well as the 1998 Incidents and the world premiere of Torch. Program B, which I will miss, focuses on Walking Out The Dark from 2001 and Upside Down from 1998.

This most satisfying season offers evidence of this artist's diligent and joyful exploration of texture and time in music, brushing past the strict outer lines of movement to uncover more of what's possible to the dancing body, doing so from a place of mindfulness of the travels of African peoples throughout our history. Brown's through-line, his sustenance--and the fuel for his dancers--comes from the history of Black people uplifted by their connection to a spiritual source and to one another. His dancers help me see this as an experience of being filled to bursting with energies and identities. We carry so many stories and ancestors within our bodies, hence, so many impulses clamoring to be remembered, honored, expressed. The individual body must fragment, loosen, release, become its own orchestra. Yet, at times, Brown's troupe falls into smooth, disciplined harmony. I have always loved the way Brown chooses and reveals the diverse, rich music of the Black diaspora--from spirituals to Marley to house--and, for that, I view him as my teacher.

Torch, a tribute to Beth Young--Brown's friend and student, lost to cancer--opens with a cluster of dancers, wearing costumes of a fabric and color reminiscent of hospital scrubs, elevating then engulfing and concealing Annique S. Roberts while Otis Donovan Herring dances alone. But this obvious setup gives way to jaunty celebration of a relationship and a life, set to South African house music. Roberts, Herring and the entire company shine, and it is fun and moving to see Brown participate in the dancing as well.

See Ronald K. Brown/Evidence at The Joyce Theater through Sunday night. For a complete schedule and ticket information, click here.

The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at 19th Street), Manhattan

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