Dancing on the Railby Vanessa Manko
Choreographers are in the business of experimentation, endlessly searching for new movement vocabularies, fine-tuning and developing a style, or merging disciplines in the spirit of collaboration and the blurring of artistic boundaries. This month, several choreographers explore relationships between dance and technology through video diary, installation work, transistor radios, and motion-capture software. Experimentation also finds a place in the informal dance variety show, which allows choreographers to take risks and audience members to laugh out loud (See DanceOff below). Bill Shannon, decidedly not a choreographer, defies both gravity and his disability with a smattering of club dance, skateboard suave, and “crutchmaster” virtuosity.
Mark Jarecke February 10 – 3
The props of modern daily life—iPods, MP3 players, cell phones—serve as inspiration for Mark Jarecke’s latest work, Dendron. Exploring how we shape and control our environments and lives through gadgets and modern medicine—drugs, plastic surgery—Jarecke invites audience members to a performance “in the round” in which dancers dart, bend, and lunge in Jarecke’s singular, angular movement vocabulary, a style akin to full-body origami. Here, the audience members take control over the performance environment by walking around St. Mark’s Church while FM transistor radios alter the soundscape. In essence, no one viewer will have quite the same performance experience.
February 10 – 13, 8:30 p.m.
Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church
Bill Shannon February 17 – 19
The first time I saw Bill Shannon (a.k.a “Crutchmaster”) was on a warm evening at the World Trade Center. He was performing in lower Manhattan’s Evening Stars summer dance series. The towers, lights flickering like fireflies, loomed above the stage while businessmen and women dashed in and around the WTC plaza. Amid all this vital movement and momentum, Shannon entranced me with his skater-boy indifference, his rocker-bottom-crutch agility, and the lithe way he seemed, literally, to walk on air. He was not like any other “dancer” I’d seen. But Shannon deliberately eschews the label “choreographer.” Instead, he defines himself as an interdisciplinary performance and media artist. He combines his crutchmaster moves—pirouetting, wrapping legs around a crutch, gliding, and flipping—with the popping and breaking of street dance, and bridges the vernacular (street and club dance) with performance. In his new work, Sketchy, he collaborates with Step Fenz Crew, and with the aid of motion-capture video software, aims to document the history of street dance.
February 17 – 19, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $15; $12 for students
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street
tel. 212.255.5739; www.thekitchen.org;
Alejandra Martorell February 17 – 20
Can there be such a thing as a memoir in movement? I’m not sure, but Alejandra Martorell tries to come close. Martorell, a choreographer and dancer who is also a member of Tryst, a performance group that creates “outdoor situations,” created a video of her daily movement over three months. Martorell then transposed this day-to-day activity into a solo. She also choreographed a duet and group piece, extrapolating on patterns established in the video images. Combined, this forms the three-part They Are Not Falling, with the primary material—the video diary itself—having a role as well.
February 17 – 20, Thursday – Saturday, 8 p.m. Tickets: $15
150 First Avenue at East 9th Street
tel. 212.477.5288, www.ps122.org
DanceOff! February 18 and 19
If Lucille Ball and Steve Paxton were to have offspring, they might be something like Terry Dean Bartlett and Katie Workum. Creating a perfect blend of physical comedy and postmodern dance, Workum and Bartlett cohost this smorgasbord performance presented in a cabaret-style format. One doesn’t expect belly laughs at a dance performance, but Workum, Bartlett, and the slew of other performers in this ongoing series defy expectation. Presented as part of Symphony Space’s Laughter After Dark program, other notable performers in DanceOff! include Leigh Garret, David Neumann, Bartlett’s fellow STREB dancers, and Jonah Bokaer of Cunningham fame.
February 18 and 19, 8:30 p.m.
Tickets: $21, Students $16
Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at 95th Street tel. 212.864.1414