Theater archives

Witchel Celebrates 10 Years, Premieres, and a Superstar


For Dance as Ever’s 10th anniversary, Alexandra Ansanelli, NYCB’s newest principal dancer, portrayed a sinking woman in Leigh Witchel’s The Pause on the Way Down. Ansanelli covered the stage with her sinewy limbs, twisting in and out of arabesques, sweeping her arms in long, clean lines. She infused Heinrich Biber’s “Passacaglia in G Minor” with life; had violinist Mat Maneri been left to his own devices, the piece would have suffocated. Maneri redeemed himself (with the help of three other string musicians) in the premiere of The New Rome. A splendidly abstract commissioned score by Evren Celimli was a perfect mate for Witchel’s choreography, which seamlessly knit ensemble work with clever partnering sequences, featuring fierce legwork by Elizabeth Drissi, Sarah LaPorte Folger, and Mary Carpenter, and moments of raw, breathtaking physicality when Abraham Miha, Robert Rosario, and Peter Snow leaped and turned as one entity.

At the Field’s Three City Exchange, Julie Laffin of Chicago sprawled on North 7th Street, clad in a red velvet gown that rose 30 feet above her, hanging from the rafters of WAX in dramatic representation of the “excesses of femininity.” Maureen Whiting of Seattle arrived in red stiletto heels. She struggled maniacally to break—and make—boundaries for herself, using duct tape and lipstick to circumscribe lines and shapes across her body and the floor. The unashamed buffoonery of Brooklyn’s Chris Yon, who clumsily twirled and bunny-hopped around the room with a sign reading “Rip Off” pinned to his back, elicited charitable chuckles from the audience, while Rachel Shao-Lan Blum, another New Yorker, dug deeply enough to awaken our primordial instincts. Her Dark: in larva, pupa and light traced the three stages of a butterfly’s life; we became as enamored and surprised as she was with each new, organic movement that sprang from her body.