Words and Movement Remain Uneasy Partners Despite Handsome Dancing


Paul D. Mosley makes a point of allying his choreography with spoken text. In his solo Sitivit Anima Mea, to words by Rilke, he comes to grief, as most dancers would, for sheer lack of breath and theatrically inadequate voice and diction. A subtler problem arises in his new, ambitious The Dead Father, based on Donald Barthelme’s strange and scary postmodern novel of the same name. Very little of the text is quoted, and dance proves to be incapable of rendering subtleties and complexities that are the province of literature. Mosley’s evocation of the horrors that can breed in the roiling matrix of nuclear-family life rarely rises above soap opera level. This choreographer’s signature movement style is gratifying, though, inflecting long, harmonious stretches of arms and legs with percussive material before the vocabulary gets wimpily pretty or dull. And he has two superb dancers, Richard Ayres and Lanileigh Ting, who embody it to perfection.

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