LONI LANDON DANCE
October 13, 2016
Loni Landon Dance Project closed week two of The Joyce Theater’s NY Quadrille with the revelation that a four-sided view just might be how the company is meant to be seen. Presenting repertory and a premiere, Landon’s ensemble and its audience often met each other at the stage’s lips.
Rebuilding Sandcastles may have been made in remembrance of Hurricane Sandy’s ravaging of homes; however, the piece’s focus is invariably human. A man sends a woman arching back by merely approaching her. She plunges deeper until deciding to leave, another woman taking her place at the same altitude. There is a dutiful acceptance to such situations. Fresh off of a complex chain of group partner work, a dancer is left in a headstand, sternly maintained amid surrounding fluid whirling in which every shape lands, lasts, and dissolves from our eye, creating a meatier choreographic texture than the hazier counterpoints in vogue today. In a nod to the classical shoulder-sit, a body straddles slightly farther down its carrier’s arm than is typical, which continues to extend as a perch. For the rider, there is nothing to see, only space to travel. While Landon’s work maintains a keenly architectural sensibility, it, here, speaks more to a grasping of momentary presence and the rehabilitation of self and community.
The stage is left bare for Fast Love, as an overture of overdriven guitar chugging sharply contrasts Sandcastle’s gentle harmonics. Like the peal of church bells, four guitarists interlock Jerome Begin’s increasingly complex rhythms, yet it precedes no grand entrance, but a slipping onstage to embark on a process of scattering, displacing, and reforming. Concerned with increasingly digitizing relationships, Landon’s flow is infected with choreographic second-guessing. Violent gestures vary in effect. Charging runs stop immediately into a tender embrace with no airbag necessary, but when two men link their forearms, another is knocked to different levels by an image somewhere between a limbo stick and a trash compactor. While partnering is constructed through an investigation of avoidance, the movement itself is imbued with the avoidance of an indiscriminate acceptance of momentum.
Seeing both pieces for the first time on the Joyce’s Quadrille, one would not think that only one was made specifically for the stage. Landon’s work is suited well to a multi-perspective view, even when intended for a frontal presentation, largely due to her use of space, which relies not on patterns, but on composed scatterings that harmonize all the while lacking a definite primary focus. Within this, the (mostly dancer generated) movement falls into categories of swirls and soft impacts, which manifest in partnering as space holds, chain reactions, manipulations, and record-player-like spins. Unison is rarely pure, but suggested with synchronized timing of movement embedded with slight discrepancies such that it is unclear which phrase might be the original and which is the variation. Landon’s language is a spatio-temporal one, in which motifs are situations stretched over multiple people and periods of time, revealed in sequential relationships.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews