Reinventing the ’60s

White Oak Shines New Light on Rambunctious Old Days

In two new pieces, Brown creates elegant, slightly chill environments. SAS traps Fabrice Lamego and Caroline Nehr in a rectangle of light below hanging lamps. To warm voices (music by Brenda Fassi and Vuli Ndlela), they perform impassioned exercises—close yet separate. As they leave, she pulls an imaginary light cord and erases their world. Eight people walk on to begin 2Face and stand looking toward a fluorescent tube on the floor at the back. It may be a finish line, but they're bent on individual missions that sometimes approach rat-race intensity. Encounters and moments of unison are rare. In one arresting image, Marden Ramos strides forward, the others hanging off him like a vast, breathing cloak. At the end, they line up again, but turn their heads to glance warily at us.

White Oak’s postmodern redux: Baryshnikov kicks back in the director’s chair.
photo: Ellen Crane
White Oak’s postmodern redux: Baryshnikov kicks back in the director’s chair.

Both choreographers are at their best when they harness their love of rich movement to strong, clear forms, and when they're succinct. Like Brown's 1998 Testimony, Monte's new Shattered runs out of steam before Michael Gordon's apocalyptic music, Weather, crashes to its end. Clifton Taylor's lightning flashes show a population flung apart, collapsing, and crawling together. Gorgeous Nadine Mose tackles a long solo as if she were Stravinsky's Chosen Maiden, ready to dance herself to death for a little sunshine. The others walk in, look at her, and back out. Monte fluctuates between inventive movement and sore-thumb staples like ballet brisées performed with driven fervor.

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