Minnesota Skinny


James Sewell danced with Feld Ballets/NY before decamping in 1993 for his home state of Minnesota. In March his troupe made its first return visit to New York (Kaye Playhouse), and Feldian influences were strong: grown-up vaudeville, posterworthy patterns, earnest emotion. Sewell’s choreography, at once unexpected and unremarkable, seems to start in the wrist and upper back rather than the legs or solar plexus, which brings a skittish feeling to otherwise satiny combinations. In Moving Works the fine dancers merged and scattered under rainbow lights. The first half of Good Mourning, a piece about love and grief set to the obvious Bach and Barber, was a gorgeous procession with some excellent partnering. The second, about a dying man and his heartsick wife, was danced with dedication but verged on the maudlin. At the end of a dance to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” five dancers nudged each other into a mime of Old Glory waving in the breeze. The company misses something in bite and crunch, but it has a fresh, pleasing sensibility: green grass rather than arugula. —Alicia Mosier

Pan Tanowitz’s new Informal (Guggenheim, March) was a thoroughly uptown experience though Tanowitz is a downtown artist. In the gilded auditorium, the dancers gave a performance that conveyed classic elegance and taste; one of the musicians even played a gold violin. Informal, made for New York City Ballet soloist Tom Gold, illustrates his versatile skills. Tanowitz’s eclectic choreography, while full of classical references, demands a casual style and employs the dancers’ idiosyncrasies—a challenge for the ballet-trained. Joining Gold, Tanowitz’s own dancers look just as strong as the star, and possibly more convincing, as they glide through her quirky, spluttering phrases. —Josephine Leask