Tender Is the Night

Richard Daniels's return to performing and choreography after a 15-year hiatus is part of his wellness program; he has been living with HIV for 20 years. Wee Hours, the highlight of his recent concert (Connelly Theater, April 2 through 6), seems to reflect the emotional sensitivity and wisdom such experience can give. A suite of solos and duets set to piano nocturnes gorgeously rendered by Nurit Tilles and choreographed in collaboration with its distinctive performers, it explores the tenderness, the vulnerability, the unreasoning anger, and the haunting fears that possess the soul when it hovers between sleeping and waking. In the most memorable section, veteran stars Kate Johnson and Keith Sabado evoke the quiet, familiar intimacy of a pair who have long shared a bed. The mood of sweet mutual sympathy is heightened just once by a (literally) soaring flight of fancy. That juxtaposition explains why these creatures of Daniels's imagination are partners for keeps.

Nicholas Leichter and Claire Byrne (Symphony Space, April 10 and 11) specialize in solos and duets using gestural movement executed in clever, quirky, spasmodic tempos. They look like figures working under some strange postmodern form of strobe lighting. The best piece in this mode shown at their recent concert was Leichter's Baby Doll, performed by Byrne, a Daniel Nagrin-like character study of a pathetic yet touching misfit. A handful of similar efforts with less resonance threatened to leave the viewer tense and twitchy, longing for a more expansive use of anatomy, space, and emotion. Perhaps Leichter and Byrne, both handsome dancers, have realized they should venture beyond their usual confines. The first half of their latest work, Coalesce, shows a pair of bodies—lovers, one assumes—moving symbiotically, emphasizing harmony and flow. The partners form a single organism, with eight limbs but a single mind and heart.

 
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