Performing Arts: Dance
February 21, 2015
The 92Y presented Adam Barruch’s Belladonna, the first work in Doug Varone’s “Stripped/Dressed” series. Based on the short story “Repuccini’s Daughter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Barruch’s duet explores a man’s desire to save a “wild” woman, but in failing to see her beauty, suffers. Danced by Barruch and long time collaborator Chelsea Bonosky, these dancers use their deep kinesthetic understanding to move each section gracefully into the next. A sacred Baroque feeling is emanated through the soundscape, designed by Barruch, the costumes (designed by Marine Penvern) and the props utilized in telling the story.

Barruch’s distinct style is present through the piece, with a non-stop kinetic energy. Each movement begins blending into the next as the dancers get lost in the motion and the audience becomes hypnotized. Using Gothic props lends itself to the storytelling. These visual cues help the audience line up the dance and the story in a way that communicates the development of the characters relationship.

From poisoned wine to an executioner mask, props play an important role, most important being a large fish tank that sits upstage on the second level. The tank begins and ends the piece, encapsulating the wild energy that Barruch’s character failed to glean the beauty from. All the props create a very theatrical set to the dance, and with all the movements feeling more organic there is a slight disconnect created. However the decision to use these items was a necessary one that helped frame Barruch’s distinct movement style in telling this particular story.

As part of the “Stripped/Dressed” series, the first half of the evening is dedicated to dissecting the dance. Barruch takes the stage to explain what his choreographic process for this piece was like. Purposefully giving the heady context up top, the second half of the evening is the discussed work danced in full. An interesting series that allows viewers a unique access into the mind of those working within the choreographic field.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Annie Woller

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