Theater archives

In the Abstract


Jeremy Nelson’s SightUnseen (Danspace Project, October) adheres ferociously to the idea of dance for its own sake. Narrative, character, emotion, atmosphere—Nelson admits these theatrical elements into his piece only by implication, concentrating instead on kaleidoscopic reconfigurations of space by the bodies traveling through it. Narrow in vocabulary, the choreography is opulent in texture. Now taut and keen-edged, now lush and fluid, it stresses unexpected shifts of position and direction. Bodies lie horizontal in the air for seconds and lean or fling themselves into precarious diagonals, happily relinquishing all preconceived ideas about which way is up or where they’re heading. If you can submit to Nelson’s refusals and share his obsession, you’ll be drawn deep into this dance and find its particular riches lavish in their own way.

Wythoff’s Array, the largish group work that completed the program, is much the same sort of thing. It proves Nelson as astute architecturally with a dozen figures as he is with a smaller cluster. Here, though, the implacable abstraction is tempered by gorgeous falls to the floor in which the bodies seem to embrace gravity as a provider of sensual pleasure, and a memorable passage that has the dancers crossing the space laterally, committed to an unspecified but compelling mission in a darkness relieved only by a distant glow. Nelson doesn’t see fit to tell you via his program notes who Wythoff is, but the marvelous answer—in vivid color and motion—is just a click away. For a good time, go to