Sterling Silvers

Downtown Diva Triumphs at the Joyce

Watching Sally Silvers & Dancers, you're never quite sure what year it is, or where you are. The three dances they show at "Altogether Different" run on too long, but you wind up cherishing every gesture, even when you're totally lost. In her new Capture, five dancers including Silvers strike poses and sequences that leave you thinking it's 1924, 1958, and 1999, by turns and simultaneously. Bruce Andrews's collage of tunes and talking, both of which fade in and out, contributes to the fractured sensibility, which nevertheless adds up to a mysteriously enchanting experience.

In her midforties, the choreographer is a small, slightly stooped woman whose personal appearance (she looks like she's spent her life in a library) belies the fertility of her imagination. Her new solo, Teddy Growl, finds her garbed in a layered, translucent white bodice and a full, bubble-wrap skirt. Lighting designer David Fritz circles her with a rolling spotlight as she floats to fragments of Satie played live by her brother James. She evokes the late, great Lotte Goslar, a dance comedienne who transfixed audiences with her wry portraits, though moment to moment Silvers exudes some thing more like lyric poetry—sad glimpses of a faded ballerina—than Goslar did.

Last year's HUSHHUSH, expanded here, continues to delight and frustrate. Andrews collates great tunes from the '40s and '50s, cutting away in midbar like a mate torturing you with the TV remote. A cast of 11 frolics in a tropical atmosphere, gradually evoking, in pachanga moves, text snippets, and musical landscaping, the weeks before the Cuban missile crisis. A Marilyn Monroe figure serenades Kennedy on his birthday, sinister guys lurk in trench coats, sexy ones ooze in singlets and suspenders that mimic shoulder holsters. Some of the choreography gives new meaning to the phrase "sit on my face." Lighting designer Jay Ryan and costumer Elizabeth Hope Clancy create the scene with the simplest of means, and the "chorus" dancers veer from musical comedy (a song from Camelot) to authentic Latin riffs. It's a stiffer dose of postmodernism than the Joyce crowd is used to, but it works.

 
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