Great Reckonings in Little Rooms


Kamal Sinclair’s Universal Arts (Context Studios, through May 20) features 16 performers who seem like a thousand. The Beat, her collaboration with playwright Robbie McCauley, poet Mustafa Shakir, and tap dancer Baakari Wilder, rocks your world with a boogie-down metaphysical lesson in Rhythm as Universal Law. Astonishingly multitalented, the performers demonstrate tight ensemble unity as they rattle every molecule of their tiny space. Their precise timing is not merely a nicety or a sign of shared spiritual philosophy, but a matter of safety! The show runs two hours nonstop. The dancers’ ambling personal monologues kill the momentum, but a party-time conclusion brings it all home.

Stefa Zawerucha is a bighearted little dynamo with a rare idea: Tape lighting designers musing about their underappreciated alchemy, then make a dance of it—Fractured Light (P.S. 122). Naoko Nagata wraps her in transparent, reflective white. David Fritz conjures light that serves as her supple partner. Andy Russ’s sound score shapes the poetic, spiritual, comical, and truly illuminating words of Roma Flowers, Carol Mullins, Michael Mazzola, Philip Sandström, and Jennifer Tipton. Zawerucha’s sublime, sinewy movement is so polyrhythmic, she looks like a whole tribe dancing.

Earl Mosley (Chernuchin Theater) combs other companies for finely trained, conscientious performers. His works show a devouring mind on an endless search. He’s drawn critical attention, I suspect, because he appears to be pushing the “black dance” envelope. I find his choreography skillful yet inexplicably fussy, applied to rather than inhabited by dancers, and his levity flat if not strained. On the other hand, Ailey dancer Matthew Rushing commands Mosley’s Center of Your Will, bringing a willed control to its whirlwind.

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