Performing Arts: Dance
February 19, 2016
Two women stand close, but not so close that a man, Dylan Crossman, can’t squeeze between them.They don’t register his passing, nor does the man return to engage them. We find our space in a crowded urban life with a similar every-man-for-himself righteousness. The mood in Pam Tanowitz Dance is stoic. The dancers form immaculate lines, vibrate with introspective tension. Occasionally, a lucky one wins the chance to bend his/her back.

Compared to the exuberance and irreverence of Paul Taylor, the drama of Martha Graham, the lyricism of ballet, Pam Tanowitz dances seem to search for inner quiet. Her art brings to mind the line from T.S. Elliot’s “Four Quartets”: “At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless; Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement.”

A man falls to the floor with his back to the audience, his legs hidden by the wings. The curtain falls three-quarters of the way, leaving the dancers on stage visible for those who steal a glance away from a female soloist who moves in front of the curtain on the side, never once succumbing to seductive suggestion. A woman slips her back against the chest of a man, an intimate snapshot, with no preamble or follow-up. A woman sidesteps in a lunge, tapping her foot, hammering her heel. A man flaps his hands at the wrist, the rest of his body taut. Her dances are dotted with fascinating, unseen before moments, with long stretches of didactic formalism.

Classical arms, battements, arabesques, balletic beats predominate her movement. While her dances bring to mind immediately an early Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine, she has neither their humor nor eroticism. What is remarkable is the rigorous application of her aesthetic ideas.

In her opening night of her season at the Joyce Theatre, she offered the world premiere of the story progresses as if in a dream of glittering surfaces, and her 2014 work, Heaven on One’s Head. The superb FLUX Quartet played live “Four Marys” by Julia Wolfe, and for Heaven on One’s Head Conlon Nancarrow’s “String Quartets Nos. 1 and 3." The second half of the story progresses as if in a dream of glittering surfaces, was danced to an original score by Dan Siegler, an eerie pastiche of post apocalyptic electronica juxtaposed with Berlin cabaret
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY - Deirdre Towers

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