Theater archives



Here’s a switch: borrowing from classical ballet toughens up modern dance

Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance

Danspace Project


From the evidence of her recent Danspace program, Cherylyn Lavagnino might be called a lyrical choreographer, fascinated by intimate moods and encounters. Her contemplative Hill, Stream is a postmodern pastoral. Fragile Entanglement (perhaps the title says it all) is a Tudor-esque dance of freighted meetings and unspoken desires, the subtly modulated feelings glimpsed in a twilight intermittently pierced by a soft golden glow. Even in a Moment, with its driving action and intimations of danger, continually lapses from ferocity into a flowing mode. All this would seem to be business as usual from a minor poet, if not for Lavagnino’s obsession with pointe work. Abetted by her ultra-capable dancers, she uses it not as the extension it is of classical ballet’s svelte, codified vocabulary, but with deliberate perversity, as if the capability were a bizarre twist of nature. The tactic lends her work some welcome grit. —Tobi Tobias

Andy Russ’s sound score batters performers and audience

Gina Gibney Dance

The Duke on 42nd Street


The houselights are still up when Gina Gibney’s Thrown gives you its first smack to the ear. Composer Andy Russ, live at a computer, unleashes a jackhammer blast, rendering Gibney’s careful intro about her title and theme entirely superfluous. Recoiling, the audience watches dancers reel from additional sonic assaults. Russ moves on to less frightening explorations as six women unfold movement and inventive partnering that riff on throwing or being thrown—violent, disorienting, playful, liberating. That Gibney’s troupe has long worked for the empowerment of battered women is reflected in the dancers’ struggles, their uncommon resilience, the support one readily offers another. Thrown is as ingenious and moving, in its way, as 2002’s beautiful Time Remaining, both featuring the artistry of Kathy Kaufmann (lighting) and Naoko Nagata (costumes). It establishes Gibney’s dancers—each richly talented, watchable enough to shine alone—as a constellation. —Eva Yaa Asantewaa