Trisha Brown Goes on a Forest Foray, Vicky Shick Feels Not Entirely Herself

The veteran choreographers offer old and new pieces

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Vicky Shick ornamented Trisha Brown’s company for six years with her fluent, mysterious, meditative presence, and she brings those qualities to the collaborative worlds she’s been making for the past 25 years with visual artist Barbara Kilpatrick and composer Elise Kermani. Like all her works, her new Not Entirely Herself introduces us to a little community of women, although this time a man, Neil Greenberg, enters close to the end to join Shick herself.

As is frequently the case, Kilpatrick’s sculptures allude to female attire. A translucent coat hangs above the stage, shining in Chloë Z Brown’s subtle lighting; it’s so long that it trails across the floor and merges with the hem of a white kimono on a dressmaker’s dummy. Long silver curtains veil a far corner of the stage. Although Marilyn Maywald, Jimena Paz, and Maggie Thom begin in simple black tops and leggings, they soon reappear intriguingly attired. Thom, slender and severe, wears an embroidered jacket that alludes to military attire. Kilpatrick has costumed the more wide-eyed, playful Maywald in a sparkly gray blouse and a black skirt sprinkled with leaf shapes; Paz’s compelling, restrained glamour is set off by black dress with a full, transparent skirt and an array of straps.

Samuel Wentz, Tamara Riewe, Laurel Jenkins Tentindo, and Dai Jian in Trisha Brown’s Foray/Forêt.
Yi-Chun Wu
Samuel Wentz, Tamara Riewe, Laurel Jenkins Tentindo, and Dai Jian in Trisha Brown’s Foray/Forêt.
Maggie Thom, Marilyn Maywald, and Jimena Paz in Vicky Shick’s Not Entirely Herself.
Paula Court
Maggie Thom, Marilyn Maywald, and Jimena Paz in Vicky Shick’s Not Entirely Herself.

Details

Trisha Brown Dance Company
Dance Theater Workshop
219 West 19th Street
212-924-0007
March 16 through 26
Vicky Shick: 'Not Entirely Herself'
The Kitchen
March 16 through 19

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In these guises, the three women are—and are not—themselves. Shick makes us see them as a family—a sisterhood if you like. In the beginning they’re confined to a low platform, perhaps four feet square. The one in middle braces herself, feet apart, arms akimbo, fists clenched. The other two lean—sag—against her, their legs tangling. Then they carefully edge around until another of them is in the middle, then the third. In all their delicate negotiations and tender connections, they remain aware of one another (even, at times, stealthily so), and sometimes of us. More than once, two of them or all three walk with their arms around one another’s waists like schoolfriends. Kermani’s music blows through the dancing like a changeable wind, delivering heavy chords, high dissonant tones, chimes, a piano melody, the patter of distant drums….

Shick creates enigmas without romancing them. Every action—seemingly thought through and performed without artifice—hints at meanings, but discourages probing for them. Everything has the succinctness of a haiku, whether it’s one woman holding out her palm and another working her way close enough to put her chin on that hand, or Thom putting one hand over Paz’s eyes and Paz reaching out to feel Maywald’s curly yellow hair. Dancing briefly together in quiet, lucid phrases seems like an accepted pastime and waving their arms wildly a mood they all share.

Each small event is crystalline. Paz stands on a tiny chair that’s been placed on the platform, holding a half orange and a glass squeezer that she’s taken from behind the platform. She squeezes the orange, sucks out some of the fruit, pours the quarter cup of juice into a glass and drinks it. That’s it. One of life’s small pleasures (or duties). Don’t try to make a bigger story out of it; it’s exactly big enough.

Watching the women is a very big pleasure. When they all join in a barely audible Spanish song that Paz has introduced, sweetly out of tune with one another, crawl around the platform, and exit, we’re sorry to see them go.

But then come Shick and Greenberg, he wearing black shoes, cut-off gray pants, and a gray sweater-vest over a light-colored shirt; she in black boots, a white top, and a sort of black sarong over leggings. When he’s on the platform, he owns it—his legs planted wide apart, his arms reaching out, his body angling as he changes positions. When she’s on the platform and not messing around in the background, she crawls to its edges and back over and over, computing its limits. Standing side by side, the two of them suggest Grant Wood’s American Gothic couple, with minimal but telling twists. Shick brings Greenberg the little chair, and he sits on it, turning the pages of the book she gives him. Again, you might imagine many scenarios, but it’s best just to let them drift through your mind with little question marks winging behind them. As the lights dim, Shick is standing close to one side of the stage, facing off, and softly moving her arms—perhaps dreaming of swan queens, wary of flight.

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