Shut Up and Dance


Jeanette Stoner and Dancers’ new, allegorical Utterance (83 Leonard Street) worked better when it uttered little. An artist with a capital A wrestled with self-doubt; actress Wendy vanden Heuvel mainly had to act pensive, clueless, and resistant. Dancer Valerie Vann-Oettl played the elusive idea (capital I) with a dragon’s muscular slither. She fixed us with keen eyes, willing us to believe in the enormity of Stoner’s slender drama. Idea’s male handlers formed a drifting hideaway, taking her beyond Artist’s reach. Dialogue ranged from “Can’t you let me unfold slowly?” to “It’s so trivial! I feel so painful inside, and I don’t know why.” Finally, Idea turned Artist’s head toward lovely Himiko Minato crossing the space, an archetypal vision of serenity and turbulence beyond control, denial, or—yes—utterance.

I want to shave 30 years off my age, get into fighting shape, move to Minneapolis, and join Danny Buraczeski’s JAZZDANCE (he could use a few dancers of color—my only quibble with the company’s recent Joyce Theater performances). The troupe returned bearing many pleasures: Buraczeski’s eclectic, unerring musical taste; his beguiling, inventive jazz-modern style; his proud ensemble’s discipline; his open heart and social conscience. He earned extra credit for a lush interpretation of Cesaria Evora’s mornas (in the new Song Awakened, where the women could have inspired Botticelli) and for making no big deal of sexy partnering between men. His work has the feel, look, and all the values I care about in dance. Let me fly west and toss my beret in the air!

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