Michael Galante’s score, played live by members of his Argento Chamber Ensemble, begins very quietly. One of the two percussionists (Matt Ward and Alexander Lipowski) lightly strikes what sound like small brass bells, while the other rubs the head of his kettledrum. You can imagine a ship’s signals and the dying-away cry of sea birds. The score is full of silence, just as the movement is pitted with pauses. Kraus approaches the two men and quietly, carefully, lifts her knee toward the groin of the nearest one and waits.

The ensuing movements come like plotted eruptions. The dancers lean together, tilt, brace themselves against one another, and slant forward until they must either run or fall. At one point Kraus races toward the men, and in a flash she’s sandwiched between and above them, vertical and scanning the horizon. Their black clothes as they fly into their perilous encounters may make you think of ravens or storm clouds, but they are definitely three humans, and the storms that heat them up until they’re gleaming with sweat come from within, made incendiary by the friction of body on body. This is eroticism in its primal, devouring purity—challenging, at times ambiguous, and infinitely complex. There are no playful moments like the hip-swinging, side-by-side duet performed by Kraus and Jennifer Nugent in the last part of the beautiful Bridge of Sighs (which I first saw and wrote about when it premiered at Jacob’s Pillow last August).

The choreography for Lean-to, like that of Bridge, is full of surprises. I can hardly fathom how Clark grabs Gillespie by the neck and swings him to the floor; I see the sweep of the motion and the subsequent pause, when Clark presses his hands against his supine comrade’s chest and leans his weight on it. Lighting designer Jones sometimes makes the “sail” luminous or lays a net of blurry lines across the floor. Lights on the floor diagonally opposite the sculpture beam out harshly. The percussionists are joined by the composer on piano, Erin Lesser on flute, Andrew Kozar on trumpet, and Carol McGonnell on clarinet. There are crashes and rumblings and blowing through a dry horn, as well as repetitive passages in which one or the other of the wind players tongues her instrument rapidly until it sounds like water over pebbles. The music is more a matter of weather and nature than of melody and harmony.

Nicole Wolcott and Matthew Baker in Keigwin’s "Triptych."
Matthew Murphy
Nicole Wolcott and Matthew Baker in Keigwin’s "Triptych."
Douglas Gillespie (rear), Leslie Kraus, and Adrian Ward Clark in Kate Weare's "Lean-to"
Steven Schreiber
Douglas Gillespie (rear), Leslie Kraus, and Adrian Ward Clark in Kate Weare's "Lean-to"

Details

Keigwin + Company
Joyce Theater
June 23, 25, and 27

Kate Weare Company
Danspace Project at Saint Markís Church
June 25 through 27

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Never do you think these three people are unaware of what they do or utterly thrown off-balance by it. They may not always expect the results of their impulses, but they calculate the risks and hurl themselves into their many complicated connections the way Olympians run into their pole vaults. Once these marvelous dancers have begun a daring move, though, they forge ahead—melting into its implications and possible transformations. They don’t act out emotional involvement; they simply remain alert to one another, engaged in the heat of their actions. Kraus is amazing—demon and angel—challenging both Clark and Gillespie. But in the end, the men are leaning together on a slant, and she’s on the floor, embracing the legs of. . . which one? The lights go out as if a storm had short-circuited the electricity.

Weare gets under the skin of movement with almost surgical exactness, inflames it, and then makes it glow with a strange, yet familiar light. No one else is making work quite like hers.

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