Mark Kappel, NEWSNOTES DANCE BLOG
June 16, 2016
Photo © © Shinichi Iova-Koga
On June 16, 2016, a unique presentation of choreographers’ work was performed at New York Live Arts. Choreographers Elisa Monte, Molissa Fenley, Margo Sappington, and Jennifer Muller combined their resources to present Monte/Molissa/Margo/Muller – Live! as a collaborative effort to showcase their own creations.
This special performance included premieres as well as a familiar piece, and were examples of why these choreographers are separate and apart from so many others. They are unique and have their own choreographic signatures.
Opening this performance was Molissa Fenley and Company presenting two works, The Third Coast, a world premiere, and Mali, a New York premiere, that have been both presented as parts of a larger work, Water Table. Both pieces focus on the paradox of the abundance or lack of pure water in so many parts of the world.
The Third Coast, a work for two dancers, is choreographed to Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Hwit, and, To Stanford, from Out of Noise, in which Fenley’s choreography focuses on fluid motion, free flowing, and straight lines. As danced by Christiana Axelsen and Rebecca Chaleff, one felt the calmness of observing a view of a lake. Mali is a self-contained solo, danced by Fenley herself, choreographed to original music, Laetitia Sonami’s Dry Poem, which is contemplative and precise.
In contrast was Elisa Monte Dance dancing the premiere of Elisa Monte’s Dextra Dei. Choreographed to music by Tibor Szemzo, this piece evolved beginning in 1989 as a response to the effect of AIDS. The piece consists of a men’s quartet and at this performance there was a new section which added four women to the work.
Monte’s choreography focuses on the ritualistic with floor work, and acrobatic and bold movement. In this piece Maria Ambrose, Shay Bland, Clymene Baugher, Andy Jacobs, JoVonna Parks, Alrick Thomas, Thomas Varvaro, and Wade Watson communicate the moodiness that is represented in the choreography, putting into dance movement so much for an audience to ponder.
Margo Sappington’s Entwined explores how bodies respond in a sensual manner and also spiritually at the same time, choreographed to Erie Satie’s piano piece, the Gnossiennes. The choreography was the only work on this program that was balletic in style – and the ladies were in pointe shoes – however Sappington created this work from a contemporary point of view and offered engrossing choreography to this timeless music by Satie.
Entwined was beautifully and sensitively danced by Lillian Di Piazza and Marjorie Feiring, both of the Pennsylvania Ballet, Chyrstyn Maria Fentroy and Silken Kelly, both of the Dance Theater of Harlem, and Marlon Taylor-Wiles, evoking a wonderful sense of connection.
Closing the program was Jennifer Muller/The Works performing the world premiere of Working Title, choreographed by Muller to original music by Yut and the Hot Four. Muller, in her choreography, focuses on the extremes of human emotion and how they effect relationships.
The dancers, Alexandre Balmain, Sonja Chung, Seiko Fujita, Gen Hashimoto, Elise King, Elijah Laurant, Michelle Tara Lynch, and Shiho Tanaka, portray people avoiding contact and their intensity defied some of the joyous music that Muller has choreographed this piece to. The tone of the piece doesn’t change until the final section in which each dancer portrays a self-awareness of what has resulted from their relationships. The lesson learned that effort must be made in order for a relationship to succeed.
This performance recognized the obvious. These choreographers are masters in their inspiration, creativity, and in their craft. They offered provocative choreography that reflected their own voices, and their creative input should not be limited to self-produced showcases such as these but in the repertoires of modern dance companies and ballet companies.