Seussing It Out


I went to the latest installment of “Newsteps,” a dance series for emerging choreographers (Mulberry Street Theater, November), with the familiar hope that such a program might harbor a fledgling Martha Graham or Twyla Tharp. Taken as a whole, the eight-item concert was so disjunctive that I found myself casting about for an organizing principle beyond the Seussian “To think that I saw it on Mulberry Street!”

Profile, by Anne Zuerner, and Simple Work, by Shannon Hummel, belonged to the familiar genre of presumably autobiographical solos for young women. They are, typically, fresh, touching, and slight. A dance for a woman of more experience, Summer Morgan’s Solo for the History of Piece was a cousin of these efforts. No richer choreographically than the jeune fille studies, its performance was striking. Portraying an auditioning opera singer, Morgan evoked a doomed Jean Rhys heroine—all ravaged beauty and morbid sensitivity. Two small-group works portrayed tribes in trouble. Valerie Norman’s Out of Place represented people dislodged from their homes and their psychological equilibrium by the events of 9-11. It was sympathetic but strangely mild. Joshua Bisset’s Before Fast Forward, owing too much to Paul Taylor and butoh, depicted the weighty struggle of our barely sentient ancestors. The primordial theme was extended by Pre-words, a solo excursion into, of all things, music visualization, its choreographer, Naeko Shikano, executing disconnected, grotesque gestures to very postmodern music. Two pieces aimed for comedy, an elusive commodity in concert dance. Vicky Virgin’s The Day the Cowboy Died, a robust and wacky everything-but-the-kitchen-sink number, almost worked. Laura Peterson’s Part IV, a skit involving a pair of Brit-accented society dames underappreciating Terpsichore in her pomo mood, didn’t. All things considered, I’m placing my bets on Morgan and Virgin.

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