Theater archives

New and Traditional Styles Meld in Poetic Choreography


There’s an ambitious sweep, a large vision, to Nai-Ni Chen’s stagecraft. That tradition continues with Landscape Over Zero—its title taken from the final words of a Bei Dao poem. Dan Meeker’s first dim, then cold, blue-drenched lighting locates us in a forbidding emotional clime. Vocal and orchestral music by Joan La Barbara and her Ne(x)tworks Ensemble evokes wind scouring a desolate land, the creaking of ice, and the awakening and eventually indomitable flow of Chen’s 13 dancers. The performers emerge from and engage with Myung Hee Cho’s set—filmy fabric serving as curtain, camouflage, shroud, caul, stylized clouds, and festive streamers swirling in a joyous ribbon dance of the return of life. Unfortunately, fabric can’t be choreographed to avoid the image of a length of it attached like toilet paper to a dancer’s foot. But where Chen and company sculpt fabric and stage space effectively, they create three-dimensional poetry.