Set at Brooklyn’s Old American Can Factory, a renovated warehouse complex, Cartography: haru, verano, autumn, hiver gave audiences the unusual chance to get fresh air and exercise as an hour of dance unfolded. This poetic new piece by Yanira Castro + Company featured four duets, each a meditation on the seasons of love. Viewers were guided around buildings, up and down stairs. In a huge loft, cellophane stalactites corralled coltish, prancing Jan Schollenberger and Pamela Vail. We visited a compressed space where bare-breasted Castro and Nancy Ellis performed impersonal, forcefully erotic asanas like sunbathing sphinxes. In another small space, we crowded the edges of a Plexiglas floor while ghost-shadows of falling leaves floated across Heather Olson and Marya Wethers as they entwined, tussled, and prepared to abandon their dying love. Then we trooped up to a roof and sat in cold October wind, watching Ellis and Vail drift past a brick wall like ancient petroglyphs, images of a past remembered imperfectly.
Zawole Willa Jo Zollar’s Urban Bush Women triumphed with HairStories, a 651 Arts production at Long Island University’s Triangle Theater. Celebrating the history, variety, and beauty of black women’s crowning glory, it’s rendered in the key of funk by folks like James Brown (who surely has a few hairy stories of his own). Irresistible music, dynamic movement by Zollar’s intrepid dancers, engaging video interview clips, and a warm sense of humor and humanity gave this evening-length work its great appeal to audience members of all cultures. However, as a woman of African descent, I particularly loved how the troupe took me back to the childhood realities of nappy, tender heads and threatening hot combs, taking care to get every detail just so. Just like we do with our hair, right?