Performing Arts: Dance
October 17, 2016
Nancy Allison opened American Dance Guild’s Celebration at 60, a weekend event at 92nd Street Y, with her insouciant solo, walk, breathe, dance. In silence and then with music by Lou Harrison, Allison made her barefoot stroll, a bemused bow to Erdman’s affirmation that everything begins with walking. At the close, Allison, a long time interpreter of Erdman’s choreographies, glanced over the shoulder at the audience, a casual gesture of inclusion. She also closed the Friday event concert with her stage-to-screen, studio-to-woods adaptation of Erdman’s 1948 solo Hamadryad featuring Miki Orihara.

The two next solos, as similar as siblings, took us into feminine realms, both private and poignant. Alvin Mayes’ While Waiting with music by Leslie Adams’ Etude in G Minor brings Adriane Fang in and out of a chair, as she slips through a loop of listening pensively, a prisoner of suspension, loosing her cool in a momentary frazzle. The chair, a symbol of patience or resignation, faces up stage left, while she continually seems to itchy for an exit in the opposite direction.

Tonia Shimin’s solo “Pilgrim,” performed beautifully by Kate Rast, with music sung by Jessye Norman, brought goose bumps. Her continuity of line is not so common now, nor the swells of feeling, off-center stretches, falls, and fan kicks. Shimin, who performed with Martha Graham, Pearl Lang, Jose Limon, Mary Anthony, among others, paints the space with an energy that lingers.

The rest of the program jacked up the heat with Isadora Duncan’s timeless Dance of the Furies (1905) as staged by Lori Belilove, and performed by the long limbed and haired Kim D’Agnese, Emily D’Angelo, Beth Disharoon, Kaith Kimberling, Nikki Poulos. Their claws never relaxed, dragging poison out of the cosmos as the women flew across the stage like desperate evangelists.

Christine Dakin brought her startling exactitude to Erdman’s 1942 The Transformations of Medusa, with a commissioned score by Louis Horst, played live by pianist Amir Khosrowpour. The costume, complete with a snake hat, and long, leg hugging skirt by Charlotte Trowbridge ideally suited this dance which has a signature, rapid shift of weight with the torso facing front, the legs in wide parallel plie.

May O’Donnell’s Dance Energies (1959) showcased the terrific training of the Marymount Manhattan College Dance Company, with the 5 men being particularly striking in their jumps. This work seemed the most bound to the earnest, early modern dance days of little public or private support, though admirable for its spatial design. EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deirdre Towers

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