Theater archives

Dancenow Downstairs


In their top-hats-and-tails number, Species, Chris and Justin—grocery bags covering their heads, using the simple thumbs-up gesture—created a virtuoso display of timing and cooperation to orchestral music by Edvard Grieg. Their thumbs darted back and forth like hitchhikers’, flexed and extended, and formed complex interlocking patterns with each other. At the end, the dexterous thumbs flew away like butterflies, allowing the rest of their fingers to unfurl and lift the bags from their heads.

With great ease, tap dancer Barry Blumenfeld used every surface of the room to slide, stomp, and turn. His solo accompanied by trumpet player Erik Jekabson alternated riffs and worked in unison. He utilized the intimate space well, punctuating his dynamic dancing and sounds with small movements and quiet, staccato tapping.

David Neumann’s 1998 It’s Gonna Rain, to a hypnotic score by Steve Reich, took us on an epic journey. Neumann began by repeatedly shaking his head, building to a violent convulsing that ricocheted through his body. He then erupted in repetitive gestures that seemed to mirror the labor associated with food production, letting us feel the toil of working day in and day out as well as something of the exuberance. Just when I thought he might expire, he began all over again, inventorying all the activity a worker might perform in a lifetime.

Sarah Browder directed the excellent, silent Stop Motion Video of Brian Brooks dancing through Manhattan and Williamsburg. Brooks, clad in dark sunglasses and a bright orange jumper, dances in the streets around Union Square. Filmed frame by frame like cartoon animation, he appears to glide over every surface. Hilariously, no one seems to notice him, except for one young girl. She walks right up to the curious creature and investigates him thoroughly. At first, Brooks tries to move away, but she won’t let him. Eventually she begins mimicking his odd geometric movements—a serendipitous connection that creates a delightfully unexpected result.

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‘Dancenow/NYC’ Opener Sets Historic Firehouse Ablaze” by Elizabeth Zimmer