Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Dark Mourning" becomes Ueyama

Takehiro Ueyama and his TAKE Dance troupe conclude their two-night season at Symphony Space this evening, featuring a world premiere (Dark Mourning), a reprise of Flight from 2010, and A Baited Soul, a new piece by Ueyama's mentor, Kazuko Hirabayashi.

Ueyama grounds his choreography in the reliable tradition of dramatic, expressive dance by way of his Martha Graham/Paul Taylor lineage. Dance fans inclined to formal dance theater will feel most at home with his methods.

Watching Flight--an ensemble piece inspired by the flocking of starlings, as in this video--I found myself most impressed by Ueyama's gutsiness in filling his stage, for an extremely long period of time, with the maneuvers of a bustling spread of thirteen performers. Gutsy because, as the hour grows late, these dancers do not disperse as one would expect; gutsy because that stage looks inadequate for a flock of this size and almost martial assertiveness--which is, actually, very starling-like. Unfortunately, that extreme length of time--how many bird-evoking gestures and motions can I have every dancer perform? and for how long? and can I get away with repeating some of them?--tires and discourages one's attention. Add to that a tendency to highlight the most obvious avian movements and having Ueyama's wandering/wondering surrogate (guest dancer Barry Wizoreck) draw the piece to its conclusion by returning to the stage to pull fistfuls of fluffy white feathers from his pants pockets, and Flight has severely undercut its dynamic energy with simplistic imagery.

Dark Mourning's nine sections bear much more subtlety and shapely lyricism in their imagery, evoking relationships among mourners and memories of lost loved ones. Here birds are relegated to early morning twitters in a soundscape resonant with church bells. Movement impressions are graceful, tortured or filled with abandon in ways that intimate character, experience and the significance that one person might have for another but still leave room for a variety of possible narratives. Look for especially engaged, lovely performances by Gina Ianni, Elise Drew and John Eirich. Similarly, in A Baited Soul, Jill Echo, the seductress with the red parasol, is the one to watch.

TAKE Dance takes off on its final Symphony Space flight at 7:30 tonight. Click here for program and ticket information.

Symphony Space
Broadway at 95th Street, Manhattan

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