The first installment in the “Dancer’s Night Out” series (Dance Theater Workshop, November) showcased the work of Kimberly Bartosik, Richard Siegal, and Kathy Westwater. Both the bios of these dance makers and the solid craft of their pieces contradicted the series’ claim to be presenting artists we know best as dancers, trying their choreographic wings—but no matter. We must take pleasure as it comes to us. I found the confidence and coherence of these dances enormously satisfying.
X=X, by Siegal, an American lately associated with the Frankfurt Ballet, was the most accomplished item on the program. Siegal presents himself as a pedestrian guy, Mr. Ordinary, recounting into a microphone a real or imagined adventure with an unforgettably vivid woman (the strong, swift, fluid, and wildly gorgeous Crystal Pite). Familiar elements of hallucinatory dance theater—synthesizer music generated live, onstage, by the composer; cryptic messages chalked on the black linoleum floor; a giant mirror on wheels—are also involved here, but Siegal has the gift of making them look new and, moreover, necessary. When, in the final minutes, he begins to dance, with mind-boggling speed and flexibility—Mr. Extraordinary—he adds astonishment to the mix.
Bartosik created The Mechanics of Fluids for herself and Derry Swan; both women have distinguished themselves as Merce Cunningham dancers. The piece, which is about “female troubles” or living on the brink of apocalypse or both, is exquisitely shaped and exquisitely restrained—perhaps too much so for its own good. Westwater’s Dark Matter, Part 1: Frontier & Part 2: Dynasty evokes primordial life with intimations of the highly evolved organisms that would emerge from it. Westwater reminds us that we are irrevocably connected, not merely biologically but also psychologically, to that original ooze and the blunt impulses that lay within it.