February 19, 2018
Jessica DiMauro asks questions concerning time, primarily in the realm of our desire to control it. From these questions stem very physical answers, linguistically speaking – images of changing, chasing, forcing, moving, and catching up. These ideas, however, don’t fully make it to the surface of the nine separate pieces that comprise I’m not done yet, in which what largely reads as a themed recital nonetheless harbors some promising moments.
DiMauro’s movement, performed by a refreshingly diverse array of age groups and skin colors, is rooted in classic modern dance vocabulary, though with an emboldened rigor. In her solos, DiMauro meditates on a motif of running in place, in a variety of facings and speeds, maintaining her raised leg in attitude arabesque. A piece for sixteen women, borrowed from the Montclair dance department involves speedy unison dispersed in different directions, crisp execution allowing the harmony of the facings to be clear. While the power is exciting, it goes overboard with militant floorwork sections that turn the floor of St. Marks’ Church into a drum set, desensitizing us to indiscriminate intensity.
The final movement concludes with a rich canon, looped in such a way that small hand shapes that would get lost in a continuous phrasing emerge in temporal frames. Defaulting to customary structures, the clean ensemble ending betrays the ungraspable nature of the piece’s subject.
Hints of interests beyond dancing prowess break things up nicely. In the same conclusive moment, DiMauro continues to loop the phrase while the rest of the company takes on her running motif in a satisfying imbalance. A solo performed by Crystal Lynn Rodriguez is a complete genre departure, toying with dance theatre tropes, Rodriguez reacting to disembodied voices commenting on beauty standards before she rolls herself up in a long white fabric.
The peak of this adventurousness is performed by Alexandra Williamson. It is the only piece to actually shift category within itself, toggling between sharp physical activity, gentle reaches for help, and jarring distortions of pedestrian actions such a loud, strenuous panting. Fed up, she leaves without a sense of completion, leaving us wanting much more.
Lessening any impact made in the work is the insistence that between every piece there be a black out, a set up in dim blue, followed by another blackout before the next piece begins. In this time, every surprise is spoiled for the sake of being in the correct place. Rampant in the work as well is an exhausting amount of breath cues, a way dancers stay in sync when there’s no clear relationship of metric movement to the music. Meant as a stealthy, sparingly done cheat, they are explosively loud and frequent – the illusion spontaneity never has a chance.
The combination of micromanaging each piece’s setup, making obvious dancers’ attempts to stay together, and hitting every move with the same dynamic are symptomatic of the piece’s thrust – the need to control time. The material affectively seems to suggest it is not worth it, however the execution can’t seem to shed the compulsion.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jonathan Matthews