Nice 'N' Nasty

As a soloist, Molissa Fenley won acclaim for making abstract movement with clear, exquisite shapes, notably flexed hands and hard-angled arms invoking certain Asian dance conventions. Her pieces still have strong, resonant purity, especially Pola'a, now reworked as an egalitarian duet with ballet dancer Peter Boal. Even so, Molissa Fenley and Dancers' "Altogether Different" show felt tedious —earnest, mannerly, overly long. The new 331 Steps made me wonder if Fenley wasn't restless, too. Lesley Braithwaite, Paz Tanjuaquio, and the choreographer, each tethered to the wall by a long strip of fabric, moved to taped sounds that screeched, beeped, grunted, cackled, sloshed, and sizzled until the women finally stepped out of their leashes. Having recently attended a Japanese tea ceremony—the inspiration for Fenley's title—I got lost in looking for specific gestures. Tea masters, despite their cool modesty and spiritual intent, prepare to do something tangible—serve tea to guests. Fenley's dancers stir up space but don't get very far, and not much happens.

Laura Staton's vivid characters (Joyce Soho) might be prone to romantic entanglement, but just try throwing a lasso around one of these babies! Sexy, propulsive Mercycaptures a certain country-and-western twang in the stubborn rough-and-tumble of a two-timer (Philip Karg) and his gals, Laura Hymers and Victoria Tobia. ("You're gonna chaaaange or Ah'm gonna leave!" Tobia drawls.) The Blind, Staton's new work, pairs fascinating oddball Thom Fogarty and beautiful Jordana Toback in a vision of the blues—and love—as intoxicants that make a man grab his head, cover his eyes, and strain to keep from vomiting. As in the cheerful Hit Parade ensemble, Staton's movement is fresh, brash, and appealing in its ungainliness.

 
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