December 2, 2016
Lucinda Child's early works emphasized endurance and a stark simplicity that wrapped itself into a complex, rhythmic environment. She broke into the downtown scene as a member of the Judson Dance Theater and then famously in 1973, choreographed that monument to post modern opera, Einstein On The Beach.
A well-earned reputation for intensely mapped out patterns animated through sleek movements that surge forward in a continuous melody of motion was on view at the Joyce Theater. In Program A, the early days of Child's youthful determination appeared alongside current works pointing to a mellowing of form.
Never shying away from technique, Childs challenges dancers' physical and mental concentration. In early pieces, arms hang against an erect body (like step dancing) while the eyes follow the dancers’ legs and feet.
In Pastime, the first piece on the program created in 1963, Caitlin Scranton stands coolly on one leg and extends the other, pointing and flexing the foot. This seemingly simple feat belies its difficulty. The body is bare. One wiggle of the ankle, wobble of a leg, or tilt of the torso mars the view.
Next Katherine Helen Fisher glamorously wraps her body in a white stretchy tube material. She sits on the floor and extends one leg out like a chorine in a tub, pulls it back repeating the leggy peek-a-boo. Something about the cheeky timing makes the visual tableau totally alluring.
Child's uncanny ability to create tension and urgency through geometric augmentations sings in the following two group pieces. Women dressed in white unleash a series of turning and leaping sequences in the 1978 Katema. Then a male group peels into running walk steps that trip into a hop, skip, and leap sequence. Radial Courses (1976) is oddly reminiscent of the urgent corps passages designed to exit dancers in Swan Lake and other 19th century ballets.
The earlier, tightly executed dances lean into a new body of choreography in the most recent Into View set to music by Collin Stetson & Sarah Neufeld. Here the pace slows, arms become expressive and men and women actually touch. Couples wearing ballet slippers bond in lifting and turning partnering sequences that include pirouettes, arabesques and other decidedly ballet steps. Because the breathless quality is quieted, there’s a good deal more space between the dancers and the balletic, lyrical steps.
Excellent lighting by John Torres sets the mood throughout an evening of surprises.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis