Common Ground


Since he relocated to New York three years ago, the German-born Johannes Wieland (Danspace Project, May) has developed a singular, striking body of work. Concise and abstract, though hinting at mood, situation, and relationships, his dances are visually handsome in a stern Bauhaus style. Their movement is tightly controlled, with ferocious outbursts that read as frustration and rage at the human condition. Collectively these pieces would seem overly obsessive, were it not for the new Vertical, in which the choreographer’s concerns—about space, about feeling—expand and flower. Wieland’s dancers, gorgeously trim and strong, have the swiftest reflexes outside the realm of judo. Most of them are built low to the ground, compactness favoring the material they perform. The choreographer himself, though, appearing only in a brief solo, is tall and lanky, apparently shy, given to delicate, meditative moves. Do his fierce, stunning group dances represent his alter ego?

I couldn’t see any common aesthetic ground in the dances shown by Tom Pearson, Brian Weaver, and Jennine Willett in the latest concert of their collaborative, Third Rail Dance (Cunningham Studio, May). Pearson, who has been exploring his Native American roots, offered a brief, ritualistic solo that combined a rapt mood with movement suggesting a fierce form of martial art. Weaver designed an equal-opportunity romantic duet (the gal gets to lift the guy) for himself as a Fred Astaire type suavely partnering the lush Marissa Nielsen-Pincus. It didn’t go anywhere, but it was pleasant while it was going. A solo choreographed for Weaver by Willett, the saga of a man imprisoned in a circle of light, was so long and predictable as to be almost unwatchable. After the program closed with Willett’s Tudor-tinged cabaret quintet, I was still baffled. How do these items connect?