Molissa Fenley and Company

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Fenley, Boal together make for great night
Sharon McDaniel
Palm Beach Post Dance Writer, The Palm Beach Post
Sunday, January 7, 2001

WEST PALM BEACH--Just when I though Molissa Fenley's dancing in her modern solos couldn't be beat, Peter Boal's tour de force in State of Darkness nailed me to my chair Friday at the Kravis Center. It was a triple whammy: Fenley's gripping choreography set to Stravinky's Rite of Spring plus Boal's powerhouse performance.
In State, Fenely hints at the original steps that the legendary Nijinsky designed for Rite's infamous 1913 ballet premiere. She adds a few sports poses--"Atlas" postures and the shot put windup. But State is also full of slow, smooth, controlled, Tai Chi-like stretches that are more exhausting than jumping jacks.
With his tremendous techinque and stamina, Boal took the full minute or two needed to extend each stretch to its fullest--often balanced on one leg. And he hit nine-tenths of his rhythmic "marks" even tough Rite is a nightmare to count.
An expressive dancer, he really got into the work's emotional current. His concentration faltered at times in the 40-minute solo and so did the movement's energy. When he was hot, he was devastating, and shown to best effect by lighting designer David Moodey. Boal covered the stage with the same powerful grand jetes and turns that cause his apperances as principal dancer with the New York City Ballent to be sold out. Sadly, Kravis' small Rinker Playhouse was only half full Friday night.
Fenley showed off her choreaographic and soloistic depth in three new works: Island (2000) set to original music played live on stage; Tala (1999) to a piano-and-vocal work by John Cage; and Weathering, dance in silence. Fenley's dancing was a marvel of strength, discipline and inner focus. Even her stationary poses are alive and full of energy. In Island, though, watching Patti Monson laying the alto flute on stage right was as intriguing as the dance. Monson clicked and fluttered her tongue into the flute while tapping the keys, special effects that made Harold Meltzer's music sound like an ingenious drum solo.
Fenley's style recalls dances of Hawaii, India or Thailand in which each hand, foot and finger movement has specific meaning. The precision and artistry can captivate you whether you know the fine points or not. In Island, you don't so much follow her every gesture as swim in a stream of consciousness that involves dancer, flutist and set-- an elegant, suspended, wing-shaped sculputre by Carol Hepper.
Tala was a toughie, though. The taped music was repetitive and full of long jarring pauses. Gone was the free-flowing feel of Island. This was tense, edgy and disturbing, the type of piece ot make you squirm, as powerful as it is uncomfortable.
For Weathering, without music, Fenley was "accompanied" by Moody's lighting, which varied in color, brightness and direction. Merrill Wagner's set--gave context to Fenley's lovely dreamscape.

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