VICKY SHICK "Pathetique, Miniature Details"
March 7, 2015
Seven women, move as one, their bare feet moving stage left, calm faces front, with their right hands gently turning up, turning down. An image of Nijinska’s “Los Noces” comes to mind and then fades as those hands suggest “Maybe yes, maybe no.” The movement is exact, the impact immediate. Shick, a whimsical movement poet of downtown dance for over three decades, gets us from the get-go.
Presented as part of Harkness Dance Festival Stripped/Dressed series, curated by Doug Varone, Shick sidestepped the “Stripped” explanatory portion of the program confessing her discomfort with public speaking. With a mound of brown hair pulled high, hanging loose, she shyly stated her appreciation of her dancers: Olsi Gjeci, Lily Gold, Omagbitse Omagbemi, Marilyn Maywald Yahel, and her long time collaborators: costume designer Barbara Kilpatrick, sound designer Elise Kermani, and Bill Schaffner for his lighting design. While Shick shed little verbal light on her work, she did say she loves duets, the dancers’ vulnerability and intimacy.
Shick’s every phrase has the concise timing of a minimalist composer, such as Federico Mompou. She expects her audience to be observant because she repeats sparingly, rarely building the dances to a climax or close The small theatre of 92nd Street Y, with its painted ceiling, is a perfect venue to experience Shick’s work, aptly titled “Pathetuique, Miniatures in Details.”
Occasionally, her dancers travel with a high, slow jump or step as though they are trying to massage every part of the foot. More often, one dancer, or two, stay within a tiny range facing the audience, directing a ripple of energy through their bodies, registering certain moments with a pause. Rarely does that ripple go above the head, or across the floor. A head drops on another’s arm or nestles in the other’s neck.
Always languid, these deadpan dancers are quietly intense, with focus points finely edited. It all might be taken seriously if not for the whimsical costumes of Kilpatrick: yellow caution tape drapes over a hula hoop hung from the waist with knotted rope, framing bags that bounce on the hips for one outfit; a plastic knotted robe, draped over the arm for Shick; a third costume appeared once as a skirt that Shick pulled up on stage, and secondly, as briefly as a Saturday Night Live gag, as a mad hat.
This year’s Festival is dedicated to the late Theodore S. Bartwink, long-time executive director of the Harkness Foundation for Dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deirdre Towers