Dance commands stage in All Possibilities benefit performance
Jennifer Noyer, Albuquerque Journal
Tuesday May 16, 2000
The resurgent Theatre of All Possibilities at Cerrillos' Synergia Ranch presented a benefit performance of three solo dances by Molissa Fenley last weekend. After a 20-year hiatus, it was the first event in a new summer series at the ranch. The selection of Fenely by Kathelin Gray and Johnny Dolphin demonstrated the producers' thrust toward artistic innovation.
Saturday evening's performance was the essence of simplicity in a large studio without theatrical lighting, sets or elaborate costumes. Fenley's small, spare body moved through the rectangular space with the sensitivity and acute design awarness of a sculptural tool. Her movement established clear, sharp body shapes that reached beyond personal space to encompass the farthest extensions of arms and legs in a wide special sphere.
The first solo, "Island," was created in Hawaii, and first performed last February at The Kitchen in New York City.
Birdlike extensions of the arms, banking in spiral movement, evoked an approach from the air as Fenley focused downward from some hight aerial perch. The dance proceeded to move, playing with gestures that proceeded from a single isolated body part, such as a flexed foot leading to flexion at the hip, and then the upper torse bending forward as though to bow in an elaborate avian courtship.
Fenley's dance vocabulary throughout the concert dealt with ritualized gestrues that progressed from being evocative of animal life to rather mesmeric movement meditations.
One of her three pieces, "Weathering," also first performed last February, was danced in total silence. It began with a forward lunge from the upstage right corner, and developed a complex series of gestures, positions, fluid transitions from one pose to the next as she moved through all the dimensions of the stage space.
Hardly any movement was repeated, and Fenley later said one of the goals of her choreography was to progress, minute by minute without repeating anything.
This was a very cerebral exercise, but the dancer's joy in experiencing the extremities of spacial extension with arms and legs overcame what would have been an entireley abstract expression.
There was no intermission during this performance, yet Fenley continued with hardly a break in presenting her three long dances. None was less than 15 minitues. She is noted for her enormous strength in commanding a large stage during solo concerts. The delicate effect of Fenley's small frame, her finesse and superb attention to each tiny detail of gesture all belie her great stamina and muscularity.
It was a treat to watch a performer like this in an intimate space. The audience could almost reach out and touch her at moments. Any flaw, and there were none that I could see, would stand out disturbingly.