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Autumn in New York kicks off with a feast of choreography
Falling in Love Again
Deborah Jowitt, Village Voice
October 4th, 2004 5:55 PM

Photo © Richard Termine

Molissa Fenley
The Kitchen
512 West 19th Street
Through Saturday

Fall for Dance
NYCity Center
September 28 through October 3

When I saw Molissa Fenley's quartet Mix at the Kitchen in 1979, I was struck by its tight space patterns, handclaps, and springy, audible footsteps. It was less adamant than folk dance, warmer than ritual. Beginning in the late 1980s, when she choreographed primarily solos, her repeating, ongoing traveling steps and the smooth, sinewy muscularity with which her arms and torso carved the space gave her the air of a hero weathering an ordeal with grace and ardor.

In two different programs at the Kitchen, Fenley celebrates turning 50, with over 50 works behind her. In Water Courses, Kuro Shio (both 2003), and the new Lava Field, Ashley Brunning, Tessa Chandler, Wanjiru Kamuyu, Cassie Mey, Paz Tanjuaquio, and Fenley extend their limbs further into space. Except in the swift, foot-nimble patterns of Water Courses, the choreography allows more breathing pauses. Kuro Shio adopts a measured tempo in accord with Bun-Ching Lam's lovely, spare music, and the dancers move through pairings, canons, and interweavings like members of a serene commune.

John Bischoff's fine Piano 7hz, which accompanies Lava Field, is spare and erratic, and the subtly tender relationship among Brunning, Fenley, Kamuyu, and Tanjuaquio as quietly changeable as their shot-silk skirts by Khadda and David Moodey's mystical lighting. Sometimes the women simply run to sweep into a pose. Sometimes they're dancing different parts of the same phrase; at other times, they meet and hold hands. At one striking moment, three lie in a rectangle of pink light and rest their heads on one another. The interplay of flow and stasis-within-flow is beautiful—pressured, charged, yet calm. Happy 50th, Molissa!

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Lava Field