Outside the Box

The Art of the Matter

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Spores, Solitude, and Summer Humming
(dancer: Yumiko Yoshikawa; photo: Paul Schefz)

"If the UN can't solve it, bring it to us," kids Jennifer Muller about her company's prized reputation as a melting pot. Preparing to present her newest trenchant dance theater works May 30 through June 4 at the Joyce, the choreographer takes her job seriously. "In my book, the arts have a responsibility to communicate," she says, even if dance's low profile doesn't let her feel she can change the world. Hoping to create "dance that matters," she choreographs about "things that concern us now." In their Chelsea studio the members of Jennifer Muller/The Works freely explore their personal creativity as they develop a body of works pregnant with meaning and often heavy with words.

Refusing to put her art in a box, Muller marries conversational dialogue and movement—she claims to be a pioneer of the union—and writes the company's scripts herself. Playwrights who couldn't understand the symbolism of body language left her no other choice. The offspring of her personal investigations have been some distinguished young artists (Ronald K. Brown and Young Soon Kim are two) and dancers—like Leda Meredith, Leonardo Smith, and Christopher Pilafian—whose new work will be seen in her Alumni & Company Creations Project at the Joyce. Other Muller alumni have moved into the healing arts. Yet she has her light side. Her new Spores, Solitude & Summer Humming was a knee-jerk reaction of delight to a Bobby McFerrin CD, and the soundscape of a sleepless night for aSOloincludes percussionist Marty Beller shredding lettuce. Though trained as actors, her dancers open their mouths only when choreography can't tell the full story.

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Winter Pieces
(dancer: Petra Van Noort; photo: Paul Schefz)

 
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