Downtown dance is a kind of confidence game: The artists have confidence, and the audience is game. Miguel Gutierrez’s new dAMNATION rOAD deploys his troupe of five strong performers in Christoph Draeger’s post-apocalyptic junkyard. Under a lifeguard tower, Fritz Welch caterwauls into a handheld mic while Jaime Fennelly pounds archaic technological equipment as though he were Glenn Gould on a grand piano.
For 80 minutes, bare-legged virtuosos rise from the dead (Tarek Halaby and Abby Crain), tremble and flail (Michelle Boulé), and dance conjoined in a single zippered hoodie (Gutierrez and Anna Azrieli). Boulé, blindfolded throughout, mates with an electric fan in her fraught odyssey through the detritus, which includes a destroyed car, an old phone booth with a door, a box spring and mattress between which she sandwiches herself, and various sources of earsplitting sound. At one uncharacteristically light moment, all five dancers merge into a jumping clump.
This rOAD is too long, almost unbearable, yet you have to travel it. Desolation shot through with intensely focused action, reluctant to end, it tears through your head and heart.