Yoga to Go


While the media rabble-roused the election fracas toward combustion, and the cognoscenti debated whether to brine their turkeys, it was comforting to sit in Judson Church and ponder the influence of yoga on dance. At a panel discussion after Movement Research’s “Yoga, Dance and Choreography” program, the hottest question came from yoga practitioner Lilia Mead: Is it appropriate to see a yoga position in a dance? After all, yoga is an introspective spiritual practice, and performance involves a public presentation of the self. To which Sara Rudner responded, “Some of us view dance as a spiritual practice.”

In fact, little of the dancing dealt with yoga in any obvious way. France-based Keity Anjoure studied Indian Kuchipudi and the martial art form Kalaripayyat. Their influences infuse her prominently angled elbows and knees, and the slow control with which she torques into a deep squat. Anjoure’s Piece for a Space, a Body, and Metallic/Anatomic Structure implies a journey around three irregular arches designed by Laura Paris, but seems more about the grave performance of extreme and intriguing acts.

Gabri Christa was raised on yoga in Curaçao long before she performed with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane. Can yoga practice take some credit for her gorgeousness? This woman’s sensuousness is so fresh and joyous that her entire body seems to glow. In The Winti Project: YEYE, a work in progress to music by Vernon Reid and Zojojo, women engage in sisterly teaching sessions, gently manipulating one another. Some of the six dancers don’t seem fully integrated yet, but the piece promises riches.

Sarah Skaggs begins her Making a Dance part one by molding her body into poses, one per beat of the music (Cranes, Chemical Brothers). Then, while she sits out, five performers turn her material into an attractive contrapuntal boil of private dances. Their inhabiting her movement, she said later, relates to the yogic ideal of finding yourself in each prescribed posture and building energy through repetition. In Rudner’s Dida Duet, Jodi Melnick and Linda Sastradipradja, alongside an enigmatic heap of black hair by Lissa Streeter, do indeed make dancing look like a spiritual practice—not through any rituals or show of devoutness, but through superb dancing that reflects the myriad shadings of the soul. —Deborah Jowitt

A title like “Bones of the Earth: Yoga-Inspired Dances” might suggest tricky body twists, headstands, and blissful navel gazing. But the nine works shown at Cyndi Lee’s West Village OM yoga center, where many dancers study, surveyed a miscellany of interesting sites along the spiritual path. Among the expected gentler fare, there was room for Lee’s clownish interpretation of an Allen Ginsberg song (updated to advise Dubya and Al to “stop and meditate”); ecstatic, ritualized pieces based in mudra (sacred gestures) by Lee’s coproducer, Alison Granucci; Paula A. Aaron’s Maybe I Was Wrong, an agonizing work in progress about death, loss, and memory; and Sondra Loring’s kickass, knockout Strength: Two Voices. I trust Loring drew on her yoga practice, but it was the martial arts—grounded in spiritual centeredness, certainly—that Strength celebrated, with Loring and Kristen Mullins wearing black clothes and don’t-play-me expressions and boldly jutting across the space at angles to the floor and ceiling. They concluded their brisk, militant excursions by settling into a meditative pose, acknowledging not merely the fount of all the varied dances, but the source of their authority as women of power. —Eva Yaa Asantewaa

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