Sitting Down to Dance

New Choreography by Swanson, Curran, and a Clutch of Downtowners

Three pieces used chairs. In The Main Event, an excerpt from Tania Isaac's work in progress, Deborah Richards sat to speak, with ferocity and elegant articulation, a text by her and Isaac, while Isaac—lanky and powerful yet delicate—danced as if to cast things away. It wasn't hard to get the drift (identity and assimilation) from sentences like "Girl, you're a long way from the ripe smells of a native somewhere," but words and movement never fully mated.

On two close-together chairs, in an excerpt from Shannon Hummel's promising work in progress Stay, sat prim, hands-folded Vanessa Adato and Donna Costello. Costello practiced enough curious, obsessive gestures to interest and irritate her seat mate. Her escalating bids for attention led to a struggle; the smaller Adato repeatedly pinned her to the wall with an elbow. Hummel's initial image, coupled with the birdsong in MANOISECA's score, suggested strangers in a park, but then Adato could've walked away or called the cops. There's some deeper, as yet unclarified rivalry here.

Wil Swanson and Joshua Zimmerman in Swanson's Torse, at The Duke
photo: Pete Kuhns
Wil Swanson and Joshua Zimmerman in Swanson's Torse, at The Duke

The chairs in Wood's piece were occupied by three women in slips—maybe sisters, who, though rebellious, seemed pulled into eddies of movement by a dominating yet landlocked woman (Leslie Johnson) in an extra-long red dress, who gestured from a tall box. Almost throughout this enigmatic but compelling piece, with its barely heard text by Jonathan Pascoe, another woman in red, Sara Joel, sat on the floor shaking her head—an object of occasional attention, like the demented child in the attic or the bewildered demon within.

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