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Friday, May 30, 2014

Naturally Jen Rosenblit

Left to right: Justin Cabrillos, Jen Rosenblit and Addys Gonzalez
in a performance at Judson Memorial Church
What's natural?

In a dance by Jen Rosenblit--say, a Natural dance by Jen Rosenblit at The Kitchen--it appears to be bodies being in space, a lot of open space, and being exactly what they are and doing what they do and not being overly messed with. Bodies occupying space together--say, Rosenblit herself and Addys Gonzalez and Justin Cabrillos and Effie Bowen and Hillary Clark--co-existing without the force of How Bodies Should Occupy Space Together and How to Make Things Happen. And if anything happens between and among those bodies in space, it happens in the charged and naturally absurd space of juxtaposition and repetition, not because someone once laid out Rules of Choreography. Or rules of anything.

Natural like, You've got this meadow over here and this little tree standing up that you can see out of the corner of your right eye, and maybe a pinto scampering in the far distance. You turn your head to look directly at the tree, and suddenly a hare hops into view.

a Natural dance has a voiceover passage (uncredited, but Rosenblit is a fascinating writer to explore; see her blog) that is a wry enumeration and litany of colors from, it would appear, the world of cosmetics. [UPDATE: Folks on Twitter seem to have discovered the true source: A catalogue of theatrical lighting color filters!] There's no clear sense of why this text accompanies this particular stretch of movement. Like anything else spliced into the space, there could have been a specific reason for it, but why burden it with thoughts like that when it's just delectable to the ear, the way that Rosenblit's striking costumes for Gonzalez and Cabrillos--cartoonishly oversized overalls, one in teal green, the other in royal blue, skimming the two mens' bodies, offering space, space, space--enchant the eyes?

At times, Rosenblit sails warm-toned vocalizing across the space from a platform--more space for one or another dancer to claim--set up, at the edge of the audience, with lounging pillows, which go unused, and a microphone. Sound is a rich part of Rosenblit's sculpture, of her ecology, and so is silence, every bit as much as motionlessness. Lighting designer Elliott Jenetopulos turns the space into a lightbox, making Rosenblit's images pop. But, for a short spell, he transforms it into a velvet-lined gift box--a little technical drama dropped, for a moment, into this natural world.

a Natural dance runs through tomorrow evening with performances at 8pm. Tickets are sold out, but for information, click here or call (212) 255-5793 ext. 11 (2-6pm).

The Kitchen
512 West 19th Street (between 10th and 11th Avenues), Manhattan

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