Taiwanese Choreographer’s Craft Is Bound By Its Own Beauty

Nai-Ni Chen’s Unbroken Thread feels like a big dream with “scary” archetypal elements that actually exhilarate rather than terrify. Dancers are secreted within or attached to a mass of thick, knotted ropes (designed by Myung Hee Cho), spilling from the theater’s overhead grid, that become props, delineations of space, definitions of relationship. Throughout life’s passages—from birth through death, movingly depicted—the dancers never truly break their invisible interconnections. Similarly, Chen’s choreography and her troupe can’t escape the beauty we’ve come to expect of them. (Count the number of “Ah!”s you hear—or breathe—after dances such as Incense or Raindrops.) There’s unusually discordant, sometimes violent material in Unbroken Thread—black, dreadlocked Eddie Stockton, one of Chen’s newest performers, falls victim to a highly stylized lynching—yet the movement’s formal integrity and opulent presentation consistently put audiences at ease. Is this loveliness a blessing or a bind? —Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Succumbing to Glimpses of a Poet’s Soul and a Closet

Emerging choreographer Dusan Tynek opened his program with Pilot’s Dream, in which Keith Sabado—all delicacy, precision, and innocence—falls to earth like Saint-Exupéry’s Little Prince and makes life’s vexing personal relationships luminous with imagination. Ambitious beyond its power to deliver, the piece is filled with vision, charm, and wit. Charge, less adventurous but more coherently crafted, departed from the familiar infernal-machine response to Philip Glass music by effectively pitting a soloist against the ensemble and allowing human desire and effort to show. Richard Daniels (big, craggy, unabashedly middle-aged) redeemed the ramshackle Wardrobe Spectre, flinging motley garments at nearly nude bodies beautiful—a Goddess of the Thrifts, issuing invitations to the dance. I enjoyed the opening piece most. I have a fatal weakness for art that preserves uncorrupted the poetic fantasies of childhood. Such personal inclinations, as potent as they are inexplicable, are what make criticism so subjective—so, you might say, unfair. —Tobi Tobias

Most Popular