Breathing Space

Think of dance in Ireland, and you're likely to imagine step dancers in green tunics. The modern niche there is practically nonexistent, but John Scott's eight-year-old, Dublin-based ensemble, comprising performers from various countries, brings to New York innovative choreography that shuns Riverdanceclichés.

Scott's Intimate Gold is full of air: breath supplies the music during moments of silence and sometimes evolves into language. Two girls face each other, breathing, grunting, and croaking. In another duet, a dancer's partner lies on the floor in front of her; with one puff she blows him away. Many of the playful images contrast with Michael Scott's ominous music, as when one dancer perches on another's shoulders doing hand jive. The choreographer's epigraph for the piece sounds Joycean: stream-of-consciousness phrases with no real endings or beginnings. His dance, however, makes somewhat awkward stops and starts: music, then silence; frenetic gestures, then stillness.

Irish American choreographer Seán Curran's That Place—Those People is much more coherent. Set to the nostalgic strains of a Janacek piano piece, it plays out the drama of five characters individualized by their costumes: a nurse, a secretary, a workman, a shopgirl, a waiter. Each has a moment in the spotlight; Curran gives each one a gestural or movement theme. The isolation of these figures breaks momentarily when a couple embrace. A duet for the men typifies Curran's powerful, beautiful movements and use of space: they trace small circles with their arms, which affect their heads. They then leap over and around each other. It's hard to say who these people might be, but Curran brings them to life.

 
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