Thursday, February 21, 2013

Juliana F. May's premiere at New York Live Arts

The three dancers of Juliana F. May/MAYDANCE's new production at New York Live Arts, Commentary = not thing, spend much of their hour with not a stitch on, which makes sense. Subverting cover, artifice and distraction, May exposes more than flesh. She goes for the stark, driven machinery and repetitive, mechanistic action of bodily motion as well as emotion. Here, neither seems under the vigilance of the human intellect although, later in the piece, the rough "machinery" appears to sort itself into somewhat pleasing or, at least, safer-looking, reassuring order and Gregorian-style chanting. The typical viewer's mind wants to follow something logical and not be jerked around or repulsed. Yet, even here and now, there is something suspect.

I see why May's promotion calls this "modern dance opera" because, like opera, it's a story (of the body) rendered in a completely over-the-top way. Rather brave Benjamin Asriel, Kayvon Pourazar and Maggie Thom dance and occasionally vocalize while stark naked for long stretches of time, in odd, often ungainly, alienating locomotion, and with gusts of breath, strangled grunts, gibberish and either hoarse or crystal clear but still inexplicable bickering coming from their mouths. 

The audience sits on the stage, enclosing the dancers' space on three sides. This arrangement heightens the claustrophobic effect of the work to some measure.

With original music by Chris Seeds, lighting by Chloe Z. Brown, set by Brad Kisicki and costumes by Reid Bartelme

Juliana F. May/MAYDANCE continues through Saturday evening with performances at 7:30pm. Seating is limited.

There will be a Come Early Conversation with Sarah Maxfield at 6:30pm this evening and a Stay Late Discussion with Brian Rogers tomorrow.

Ticket information

219 West 19th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues), Manhattan

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