The Old Tobacco Warehouse at Empire-Fulton Ferry State Park, where Dancing in the Streets set its September 17 performances, is a sun-streaked space with a raw, concrete beauty. Five choreographers had five days to create dance that captured, investigated, or otherwise engaged the spirit of this odd-shaped, roofless room of orange brick and empty archways.
Tere O’Connor envisioned the site as interactive space through which the dancers ran and climbed. They bounced off walls, scraped sneakers on concrete, yelled, posed, and galloped from one end to the other, playing with the space itself.
Ann Carlson stood in the sun next to one of the archways, shirtless, brick-printed fabric wrapped around her chest. Her Solo With a Brick Wall used only her uncovered arms, chest, and head of copper hair; she performed a series of recognizable and abstract gestures: waving, coughing, cutting the air, gathering berries, twirling fingers, and tasting her arm. The perfectly deadpan and incongruous gestures seemed to tell a story just beyond comprehension, yet fascinating to watch.
Eiko and Koma captured the hauntingly stark beauty of the warehouse in Walking, which consisted mainly of an incredibly slow, shuffling, crossing of the space, from behind the audience to the back of the room. A gigantic painting hung on the left wall, showing a woman standing in a yellow dress, her arms outstretched and her palms upturned. Eiko, her feet barely leaving the ground, walked to the painting, assumed the same position and traveled with it the length of the space, with Koma slightly behind along the other wall. Their movement, like molasses, allowed attention to flow from the space itself to the Brooklyn Bridge, visible against a beautiful blue sky.
In 82 Decibels Larry Keigwin explored and personified the found sound of the empty space, deconstructing its “white noise.” Dancers emerged out of the audience, talking on their cell phones. They barked, sang, ran, and dynamically formed and dissolved groups of 20 or more, fluctuating in near-unison, providing the most stunning image of the whole concert: A woman, supported 10 feet in the air by the outstretched arms of two men, ran, horizontally, along one of the walls, her black stilettos lightly grazing the brick; her black dress and blonde hair flying.
Lastly, Jawole Zollar used the spontaneity and sense of play inherent in this project to produce Urban Block Party. Women cheered one another and a somewhat frightened group of kids through joyful, expressive, rhythmical movement to live music. This work closed the program in a way that wonderfully captured energy and a sense of community.