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

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 17, 2001

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