Friday, October 5, 2018

"Y" premiered by RoseAnne Spradlin at New York Live Arts

Y is perhaps a chromosome. Or maybe the fork in a choreographic road, a place of duality and uncertainty. In any case, in all its moody sensuality, Y comes to us this week from award-winning choreographer RoseAnne Spradlin who is the 2017-19 Randjelović/Stryker Resident Commissioned Artist at New York Live Arts.

My initial reading of Annie Heath, Ainesh Madan, Athena Malloy, Claire Westby, Connor Voss, Doug Lecours, EmmaGrace Skove-Epes and Thomas Welsh-Huggins, as they streamed down NYLA's aisles and spread across the stage, was of eight dynamic bodies serving as building blocks piled up and tumbling over one another. Weighted, tilted and propelled, they enlivened the air around them with a wonderful freedom. A few mics, stationed close to the floor, captured the sounds of their footfalls--a sounding that registering presence and marking a place for oneself. I pondered how the distance from viewers or the type of footwear or the cover of music or the nature of technique (as in, say, ballet) usually masks this aspect of the labor, and assertiveness, of dancers.

Dim glow from a row of lights placed low to the floor gave the space an eerie, somewhat illicit atmosphere. A torso and pelvis might suddenly and broadly undulate like a creature giving birth or glide over a partner's supine body. The pale outer costumes dancer Voss designed for his colleagues give only illusory coverage.

Stripping down to undies and near- and full-nudity featured heavily later on in the hour-or-so piece as did images of buttocks openly groped with no shame on the faces staring back at the audience--or, really, any display of feeling--as partners embraced. It's interesting that, when the dance was over and performers appeared for their bow, it seemed only men had had time to slip on a bit of clothing. This might mean nothing to Spradlin. It might be a coincidence. I have no idea. But it is curious.

If we always ask ourselves--and we should--what manner of world have we entered when we enter a dance, this world seems transitional and perhaps reflects something of our own transitional time. It is brazen and discomforting. We can take either road branching away from that Y. Which road will it be? And why?

There is, as yet, no answer to that question.

Production and sound design: Glen Fogel
Lighting design: Roderick Murray
Audio engineer and sound design: Ben Manley
Costume design: Connor Voss
Dramaturgy: Susan Mar Landau

Y continues through Saturday with performances at 7:30pm. For information and tickets, click here.

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

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