March 14, 2023
Battery Dance presented its 47th annual New York City Season BATTERY DANCE NOW. Three contemporary choreographers were commissioned to present works employing original music while exploring time and transitions along with a three minute music video entitled “GREY” offered diversion and variety.
It Goes By Quick (2021) by Ana Maria Lucaciu featured five company members dancing to music by T.M.Rives and Artie Shaw, including a spoken word narration simulating the emotional and analytical mental “chatter” a viewer might have. A potted plant tree set downstage represented the “speaker” urging us to “pay attention to little things,” "let it happen” without judgement, thus reminding us of acceptance of abstract dance as a form of nature.
Six dancers in Robin Cantrell’s The Liminal Year(2021) exemplified the original score by Alexis Gideon, in sections augmented by lighting designer Leonardo Hidalgo's changing background colors.
Dancers shuffled and walked in unison formations, circling, scurrying, ending in their own lit squares, and balancing precariously on one leg for endless periods of time. Then from meditative seated postures they transitioned to earlier movement, ending in a circular group hug. The work expressed the emotional journeys experienced during the “liminal” or COVID years…the time between then and now.
A Certain Mood (2022) by Tsai Hsi Hung, inspired by Hans Hoffmann’s 1959 canvas, opens with a dramatic large black rectangle on the floor of the stage. Six dancers surround its periphery, dressed in black suit jackets, pants, and short skirts. Lighting by Leonardo Hidalgo changes to a white rectangle on the floor, while these virtuosos shift in quick vignettes of connection/disconnection until a final quintet of women -- long hair flying at the end of spiraling torsos and relentless jumps -- are enhanced by Iggy Hung’s throbbing drums and jack hammer sounds. A “lights out” false ending startled the viewer before the final ending; again in a horizontal rectangle, dancers circling.
The brief three minute music video “Grey,” filmed throughout Lower Manhattan, in black and white and then color, offered a welcome relief to the evening which suffered from a consistent, methodical format: almost all the commissioned pieces ran about the same time length, providing little programming variety. And the over-use of a smoke machine to add “mystery,” became a 'cliche’.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Mary Seidman