No Need to Flee the Flea


The Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company, at the Flea Theater through August 19, presents a 90-minute stream of five old and six new dances cleverly overlapped without breaks. The Flea’s a tiny, bare-bones space, its only exit the same portal the dancers use. You’re cheerily warned to stay put throughout or be denied reentry. Happily, the program captivates—careening from carefree romps (Summer Fever, Kalamazoo, Night Fever) to dark gems (Cycles, Caldarium, Volcano). In the impressive new Cycles, Oren Bar-Noy’s mysterious attack on Gwirtzman sends shock waves through the bodies and behavior of the ensemble. The four dancers treat one another as parts to be shuffled, snapped into place, reshuffled, and eventually cast aside. Cycles slowly mutates from abstract into explicitly violent movement, catching us up in its kinetic spell without descending to melodrama. Gwirtzman is a quirky, abundantly inventive artist with a subtle but sure defiance of gender roles. As a dancer, he’s a beauty too—lithe, sensual, playful, a rag doll whose strength and control of form surprise.

Wien, one of four works shown by Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre at Wagner Park in July and scheduled for “Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors” on Tuesday at 5:30, depicts ordinary people trapped in a nightmare of social control, domestic violence, and sexual abuse. The herded group relentlessly paces the stage in tight, regimented circles. Seized by something huge and invisible, men turn on women in pointless brutality. Dancers stumble forward with shoulders hunched, their upper bodies flopping downward, or they jostle one another, or break into sickening, forced smiles. Set to Ravel’s La Valse, Wien is so melodramatic, it’s a good thing Rioult has respectable craft and diligent performers. Bright, romantic Aurora is a more conventional crowd-pleaser with its clean design, ballet-infused aesthetic, poised ensemble, and emotive duets danced by Rioult and Lorena B. Egan.

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