Theater archives

Dancer Power


Dance by Neil Greenberg’s Sequel (Kitchen) captured the histrionic roil of the score for Hitchcock’s Vertigo (as sampled by Zeena Parkins) with dancers stretching, dipping, and swirling like ominous, neurotic waves. Often distorting their bodies’ natural reach, they created images at once inexplicably pleasing and awkward. Unlike the blank-faced men, the women acted as if assigned momentous, secret roles. The new, too lengthy Construction With Varied Materials drew from older Greenberg works, even amusingly referencing sequences created for Mikhail Baryshnikov, and was haunted by ballet and folk steps. Parkins’s erratic music mix—Ray Charles-Betty Carter duets, Tchaikovsky, Sister Sledge—suggested a narrative atmosphere and buried dramatic treasure that the movement often lacked. The sold-out show was crafted with great discipline; it benefited from Michael Stiller’s cinematic lighting and focused performances by Justine Lynch, Paige Martin, and Antonio Ramos.

ODC/San Francisco’s March season at the Joyce scored a victory for this unforgettable troupe, taking dance to extremes of imagination, beauty, vulnerability, and physical risk. Masterful performers Monique Strauss (the femme very fatale central to Brenda Way’s Hugging the Shore) and Khamla Somphanh (in KT Nelson’s They’ve Lost Their Footing and Way’s Investigating Grace) stood out. However, works like the heavenly, hell-bent Footing, with its high-speed spins and deliberate, playful spills, succeeded because every dancer performed a consummate balancing act, dancing like a maniac yet stopping on a dime, shining as an individual yet bringing maturity, substance, and commitment to the overall teamwork.