Saturday, July 1, 2017

Branfman and Strimpel of B.S. Movement duet at Tisch

Shaina Branfman and Bryan Strimpel,
co-directors of B.S. Movement
(photo: epfalck|effyography)

Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.

--Pink Floyd, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts. 1-7)"

In 2013, I named dancer Bryan Strimpel--then performing with Nicholas Leichter Dance--as one of Dance Magazine's 25 to Watch for that year. I noted his "sizzling" duet with Leichter in Twenty Twenty and how he matched the two-decades-older choreographer, himself a sensation, in "the all-important slink and sass." Several years later, Strimpel is still one to watch, but now he's moving in concert with Shaina Branfman, his personal and artistic partner in B.S. Movement, and you need to keep both in sight.

I had my chance, on Thursday, at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and almost missed it. One of those one-night only gigs.

The pair presented an intense duet called FLOYD (as in Pink Floyd, their musical touchstone, along with a little Radiohead), and they made Tisch's Jack Crystal Theater their own domestic space. They filled it with signs of mundane homelife (the morning ablutions, the cheerful sharing of a bath towel), the occasional blow-up and reconciliation and, for most of the time, a sense of venturing, together or separately, into the swift currents of life and self. Watching much of this felt voyeuristic, but the couple doesn't mind having a few witnesses to what clearly sparks their creativity.

FLOYD, indeed, serves as a way to keep an eye on these two. Not only does it look like the kinetic, theatrical version of a personal journal; it is a dual portrait. And these two might have their moments of conflict, but they're definitely attuned. They both move through air like oil droplets in shaken water and flow like summer sweat. Molten creatures. Slouchy. Sloshing. Undulating. Woozy. Adaptable, like cats, to any size or shape of space, any potential obstruction. Smacking together only to rotate and glide over each other, slithering skin to skin. Collapsing and tumbling. Driving and diving bluesily into the bluesiest bluesiness those Brits could play. I don't know the story of how Branfman and Strimpel found each other, but I'm glad they did.

Now, let's hope next time we'll have more to see from B.S. Movement and a longer window of opportunity.

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