Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dance in Museums: Up Next, MOMA

MOMA announced a new dance program for the fall, Some sweet day, to be curated by Ralph Lemon, who over the last decade has become a kind of Yoda in the field. It will team up Jérôme Bel & Steve Paxton, Dean Moss & Faustin Linyekula, and Deborah Hay & Sarah Michelson. Per the press release, the pairs will theoretically be "engaged in an aesthetic, generational, and historical dialogue about each other's work and dance in particular."

Paxton/Bel will present older pieces (including, respectively, the popular Satisfying Lover and The Show Must Go On), while the latter two pairings will create new work for the atrium. The Linyekula/Moss collaboration also includes a "two-day interstitial performance by American artist Kevin Beasley." Wow.

This comes hot on the heels of the Whitney Biennial's ramped up dance program, which coincidentally featured Michelson as well. (Michael Clark's performances begin tonight and run through April 8. I blogged about this newfound emphasis on serious dance at the Whitney recently.) It also evokes Danspace Project's platform series, wisely rekindled in recent years; 2012's—curated by Ishmael Houston Jones—is just coming to a close, fittingly with an all-day event on Mar 31 put together by... Ralph Lemon.

The Whitney turned over its fourth floor, normally galleries, to dance/theater/music residencies and performances. MOMA's program differs from the Whitney's; although the performances will occupy the ominous/awesome atrium, they won't occupy gallery space normally dedicated to exhibiting a quantity of art, although it is often given over to one large-scale installation.

MOMA's best-known featured performance in recent memory has to be Marina Abramovic's in The Artist is Present, when visitors waited hours to sit across from her and be stared at. It was part of her much-hyped retrospective, which felt alternately elegiac and glib, with its live recreations of her historical performances that to me, begged to be left as one-time events, marking a moment in time and space. On the outset, Some sweet day avoids the aura of provocation and sensationalism that Abramovic's events had.

Of course both museums have had performance programs in the past, it's just that now they seem to be more prominent. It may take real estate and energy away from visual art, but it's good for dance, and it gives the museums some of the (literally) poor dance world's priceless cachet. And in fact, choreography that tilts toward the conceptual might fit better in a museum context than a theater.

Can't buy love, but at least you can borrow it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dance Criticism—Snark Factor

More on snark in criticism, in the wake of a Dance/NYC symposium I attended, and Wendy Perron's blog.:

Snark: great term. I think Wendy Perron coined it. If not, whoever did, kudos. It needed to be defined in one elegant word.

Depends on your readership. Some critics say that they're serving the paying audience. Some offer constructive criticism within their reviews, meant for the choreographers to take or leave. Some write with the field's health in view, which tends to vary from "dazed" to "on the ropes." Most dance writers got into it through a love of dance, with a tendency to support the field. There is being honest, and there's being honest and kind. There are a lot of words and ways to say things that can avoid cruelty.

Was it assigned, or did you choose it? If you're one of the very few writing for a daily large newspaper, and you're receiving assignments, you may get assigned to write about stuff you don't like. (We all have our likes and dislikes, no matter how objective we try to be.) And if you're seeing 5-6 shows a week, you can get cranky and lose a little perspective. It might become more of a burden and responsibility than a privilege, which it also is. If you're a freelancer, you can more easily pick and choose, and unless you're sadistic, you tend to pick the stuff you want to see anyway (see: burden). Which partly explains why freelancers aren't as snarky.

Snark = eyeballs. Remember when John Simon was at New York Magazine, and people read him just to see how scathing he could be and live with himself? Sure you do, because you did too. Newspapers are businesses, and sometimes corporations are NOT in fact people.

Try to keep an open mind, and keep perspective. There are certain writers who are prejudiced against entire subgenres of dance, and yet they are continually assigned to review it. These reviews, unsurprisingly, tend to be as predictable and consistent as the writer's dislikes. So should they continue to be assigned to what they (and we) know they'll slam? Is that fair to the company, the field, or the critic? Chances are there are kernels of truth to their biases, but if these are established companies well-reviewed elsewhere, there may be fundamental things not being understood by the critic. And there is taste (narrative ballets: love 'em or leave 'em), the affect of hipness and the need for newness or novelty, and so on, that should be factored in when assigning. So perhaps it should go to another more open-minded or a critic with better tools with which to assess that genre.

Dance critics must be generalists. In the field of music; there are specialists in pop, opera, and everything in between, and they tend not to cross lines. Dance critics are expected to be able to review hip-hop to Odissi to ballet, but it's a bit of denial to assume they're equipped to do so. At least responsibly. But in a shrinking field covering an impoverished art form, we don't have the luxury of specialists.

Sometimes it can't be helped. There are simply times when you feel so negatively about something that you want that time back. That's when it gets personal. But it helps to remember that the artists you're writing about put a lot of time, energy, and resources into the work, and what you write may affect their ability to fundraise or tour, essentially their livelihood. And if you still feel that way, and you take a time out before filing/posting it, then so be it.

And as mentioned at the panel, ultimately the critic must be honest. I think most critics are, it's the word choice and what you factor in or not that shapes the tone and the snark factor.

Postscript: Let's acknowledge the recent passing of art critic Hilton Kramer. He wrote snarkily and without compunction, consequences be damned—a leading proponent of snark.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Paul Taylor Dance Company—Revival Fever

Jamie Rae Walker and Michael Novak in Junction. Photo:
Paul Taylor Dance Company’s March 21 program included two revivals new to me: Junction (of tranquility and fervor) (1961) and House of Cards (1981). Alex Katz designed the color-block leotards for Junction and the backdrop of vertical red bars—allusions to colorful tropical birds in an aviary, reinforced by repeated wing-shakings and bird-like behavior by the dancers. Set to some of Bach’s Solo Suites for Cello, the dance simmers alongside the hearty melodies rather than depicting them, at times defying the music. 

There’s plenty of stillness; Michael Novak in a child’s pose is essentially a base for the scupture that is Jamie Rae Walker, as Sean Mahoney stands nearby, and the general tone is placid and unhurried. Taylor created Aureole the next year, and you can feel themes resonate between these two works—a sweet optimism, relishing the body’s athleticism, spaciousness, and celebrating a  community. At times it even recalls Cunningham, with its disregard for tempo and small groups moving independently. I hope it remains in the repertory for awhile.
Aileen Roehl, Jamie Rae Walker, Michael Novak, and Amy Young in Junction. Photo:

While Taylor’s work generally stands up well to being time-stamped, it’s clear that it can’t avoid being branded by 1980s fashion. Cynthia O’Neal designed the costumes for House of Cards, using leg warmers, jazz shoes, low-armhole tank tops for the men, and head wraps. Mimi Gross’ brash painted drop, a clatter of familiar and abstract objects, slowly scrolled vertically throughout the dance, done to Milhaud’s La Création du Monde. Relatively new company member Heather McGinley, elegant and serene, portrayed a goddess in silver lamé, empowered as the puppeteer.

3 Epitaphs (1956) was also on this intriguing program. The five dancers wear Robert Rauschenberg's head-to-toe mud-colored unitards with mirror medallions. Their chimpanzee-like posture and tendency to lean groggily on each other at first paints them as sort of sad, but it's just as likely they're content.

Mercuric Tidings
(1982, and recostumed by Santo Loquasto in recent years) closed the program. Like many of Taylor's abstract, musically-attuned (to Schubert) densely-patterned pieces, it rewards multiple viewings. It's not just being able to see more clearly the incredibly fast parts that push these fine dancers just to their limits. It's smaller details, like the ending of a section when Amy Young quickly slips her hand onto Michael Trusnovec's just before the lights darken, locking the whole tableau into perfect focus. Mercuric Tidings made for a bracing finale of a fascinating program (lit by Jennifer Tipton) that revealed the breadth of Taylor's subgenres, and of his
artistic collaborators.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Martha at the Joyce

Blakeley White-McGuire. Photo: Costas

Martha Graham at Joyce Theater for
Dance Mag:

Joyce Theater, NYC
March 13–18, 2012
Performances reviewed:
March 16 (evening) & 18 (matinee)

The Martha Graham Dance Company will always be a pioneer, even 85 years after its founding. But now it’s less about new dances and more about finding the right balance between keeping an iconic choreographer’s work alive and adding new elements that complement her oeuvre.

The company’s recent Joyce run featured three programs on the overarching theme of “inner landscape.” Each began with the Graham alum Peter Sparling’s video Beautiful Captivesrunning as the audience entered, and at one show, awkwardly rerun after the lights went down. A cluttered montage of clips, often superimposed, featured Graham performing alongside similarly melodramatic scenes from classic films (cited in the program as “the Cinematic Id”), set to a noisy score. While the intent was likely to pay homage to Graham, at times it crossed into spoof.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Nrityagram and Chitrasena at the Joyce

Surupa Sen. Photo: Nan Melville/Nrityagram

We see a lot of classical dance in New York, and then a company like India's Nrityagram Dance Ensemble returns to town and reminds us how much we have to learn. For me, the beauty of a classical vocabulary in part lies in the codification of movement. (Ballet in particular, but it also applies to modern choreographers like Paul Taylor or Martha Graham.) These defined languages become second nature, enough to essentially become invisible—beholden to the various forms they take, or free to put ideas first. It's much like learning a language fluently—it becomes a priori; it transcends consciousness.

But it's also a complication while watching Nrityagram, whose Odissi vocabulary is  tantalizing but opaque to me, unschooled in its endless specifics. Nrityagram's three dancers (Surupa Sen, Bijayini Satpathy, and Pavithra Reddy) collaborate on the New York premiere of Samhara, the Joyce program through Mar 25, with Chitrasena Dance Company of Sri Lanka's two dancers (Thaji Dias and Mithilani Munasingha). Nrityagram's musicians, joined by a drummer from Chitrasena, play live onstage. It's obvious there is so much to learn about specific gestures—not so much the descriptive ones, which find counterparts in sign language, but the work that's constantly done by the fingers, the head angle, the eyes, the mouth, the lower body, and its relation to the upper body. It seems infinitesmal, fractal-like, pulling us close to whisper a gesture, and letting us zoom back out to take in the bigger picture.

Without the knowledge to unlock the constantly streaming storytelling, there are still plentiful gifts for the viewer. Begin with the surface, where luxuriant details abound—the hothouse flower-hued silk costumes so elaborately pleated, layered, and tailored; the trimmings, such as tassles, hair ornaments, jewelry, and makeup. The technique—rock solid balances done with ease; the coordination of every body part moving separately; the complex rhythms and syncopations. In the finale, the dancers uncork their respective strengths in stage crossings and ensemble sections. The lithe Chitrasena dancers eat up space and even leap, in contrast to the powerful groundedness of Nrityagram's more contained, theatrical Odissi style. And in a bit of showmanship, each performer's name is called as they take deserved bows before the wildly enthusiastic audience.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Paul Taylor Dance Company Gets a New House

Michael Trusnovec and Amy Young in Mercuric Tidings. Photo: Paul B. Goode
In case you hadn’t heard, Paul Taylor Dance Company is performing its annual three-week season (through April 1) at Lincoln Center’s Koch Theater for the first time, after decades at City Center. A few observations...

The stage is farther away, and the dancers thus feel somewhat distant. As an audience member, City Center has always felt somewhat claustrophobic, but the proximity of the stage forces a closer relationship with the performers. The Koch Theater is most familiar as the home of New York City Ballet, and its primarily Balanchine repertory and the general cool image of the ballet dancer fit the house’s ratios, providing a deep cushion of space between viewer and dancer. To calibrate the best viewing distance of Taylor at the Koch, it’s pretty obvious: sit closer.

The company fills the stage. I’d wondered if the 16-member company, featured all at once in just a handful of the repertoire, would not look a bit lost, but they don’t. These dancers are capable of nearly superhuman things, and can certainly take bigger steps, or leap a little higher and farther. They’re already used to projecting to the back of the wickedly cavernous City Center upper levels.

The theater underscores the diversity of Taylor’s repertory. Many of the abstract, pattern-heavy works are accompanied by classical music. Combined with the clean, crisp, very dancey “classical Taylor” technique, the vocabulary that he has canonized over nearly 60 years, the effect isn’t all that distant from ballet. On the flip side, the comical works feel slightly out of place in this temple of classicism. Not a bad thing, as one of the essential things about Taylor’s importance is the astounding variety of his creativity.

The theater’s regular tenant, NYCB, also points up that PTDC is using recorded music. This issue flares up with regularity, but it’s all the more exaggerated by the spoils of City Ballet’s emphasis on music. To say that PTDC should have live music is to overstate the obvious, but it’s simply not realistic. And raising this issue emphasizes the fact that the company is performing 22 dances over three weeks, so live music would put crazy demands on an orchestra (and its resulting expenses), even if they did minimal rehearsing and basically sight-read the music. (Another fact that highlights the brain power of these dancers.) Think about it in terms of any other modern company, that might typically have 2 or 3 works in a week-long run, if they’re lucky. The scale of PTDC’s ambitions, year after year, is only comparable with a large ballet company. And the quality of the performances seem only to be deepened, and not hobbled, by the enormity of the season.

In addition to three premieres, some favorites in this year’s rotation: the profoundly moving Beloved Renegade; Mercuric Tidings, absolutely breakneck in speed; the wickedly satirical Cloven Kingdom; the very strange Big Bertha and 3 Epitaphs, and the return of classics such as Aureole (celebrating its 50th anniversary, and featuring the nonpareil Michael Trusnovec in Taylor’s original role); Promethean Fire, rested after a year off; Brandenburgs; and of course Esplanade, perhaps the essential Taylor dance.
Susan Yung

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Book snapshot—Adam Johson's The Orphan Master's Son

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, and this has never been more true than in Adam Johnson's recent novel, The Orphan Master's Son.

It's mostly set in North Korea, where the Party is represented by the Dear Leader—everyone's father figure, deity, Obi Wan Kenobe, big brother, tormentor, and assassin, all rolled into one. America is, naturally, the great evil state, where famine is rampant and people feed their dogs out of cans, rather than farm them on rooftops and roast them up for protein.

Nothing is what it appears to be. Identities shift as people take on different roles, altering their lives permanently. Politically correct lines are memorized and hopefully recited successfully, and there's always a parallel train of thought that weighs dire punishment—labor camps, coal mines—and bittersweet rewards.

Survival techniques are taught in a land with no food. Fish farms count the inventory each night and if any are missing, punishment is pervasive, so they learn to squeeze eggs from pregnant females, and dig up vegetables whose roots wrap around buried human bones. Electricity rationing means sometimes walking up 22 flights of stairs.

Johnson mixes these horrors with a wry tone, the most viable tactic when faced with the incomprehensible. His characters maintain a heartening spirit and strength in the face of unspeakable torment and operatic absurdity. Completely fascinating from start to finish.
—Susan Yung

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tanowitz and Eifman: Ballet's Opposite Poles

Ashley Tuttle & John Heginbotham in Blue Ballet. Photo: Paula Court
Pam Tanowitz combines a rigorous formal study with the essential pleasures of ballet in Untitled (The Blue Ballet) at The Kitchen last week. It’s a complicated push/pull in part due to the ascetic Morton Feldman score (String Quartet #1, played live by FLUX Quartet) that incorporates as much quiet as sound. And while Tanowitz has pared down the movement in kind, the essence that remains is poetic and elegant, particularly when done by Ashley Tuttle, a storied ballerina who danced with ABT and then with Twyla Tharp on Broadway. I can’t imagine the work looking better on anyone else, between her polished technique and her mature bearing that manages to look both innocent and all-knowing.

Not that the rest of the ensemble’s members are slackers: Brian Reeder, who danced with NYCB and choreographs now; Sasha Dmochowksi, late of ABT; Jean Freebury, a Merce Cunningham alum; and John Heginbotham, of Mark Morris Dance Group. Clad in pewter, they orbit around Tuttle, in blue, who is onstage the entire time as the rest come and go, checking in with her. There are short bursts of energy—leaps, lifts in splits, a charmingly awkward social dance—and intricate, knotty, interdependent trios. Each pose carries as much weight as the entire dance, particularly when done by Tuttle; she ensures her foot is perfectly pointed, the angle of her body in a slant to the exact degree; her head tilted just so, and we can read every last finishing touch.

Heginbotham adds a roguish air to his phrases, which are more comedic and animalistic;  Dmochowski brings a professional lustre and impeccable line; Reeder, solidity and gravitas. While the overall tone is concentrated and serious, there are moments of levity. Tuttle rests on the floor, her arms arrayed like a cat preparing to pounce, as two other dancers hover over her. Heginbotham dances as she watches with something like concern or jealousy, a pout about to break over her face. Then all the dancers line up downstage and spin while keeping us in their sights as long as possible (akin to “spotting” in ballet turns), mirroring our fascinated, unwavering gaze.


In a polar opposite rendition of ballet (and grouped here by coincidental timing), Boris Eifman’s Rodin was presented at City Center. Rather than focusing on the form itself, ballet is merely a vehicle used to tell another in a string of angst-ridden stories, usually taken from the biographical or fiction canon, involving a romantic triangle, to a pastiche of cliched classical music. But the reasons to follow Eifman’s oeuvre were in evidence in Rodin. Watching a cluster of flesh come to life as Rodin’s Burghers of Calais was really pretty cool, or his Gates of Hell. The analogy of a sculptor bringing base material to life translates glibly, if a bit uneasily, to that of the choreographer/dancer, especially when they're called upon to strip to their skivvies and bend their limbs into painful-looking poses, putty in another's hands. 

Eifman may not be interested in choreographing logical, pleasing balletic paragraphs, but he collects dancers whose long limbs and flexible arches can contort into the shapes he equates with every emotion in the book. He can do fun, goofy stuff with large groups, in this case, a grape harvest festival and a Can-Can dance hall, and for a change, one of the women is also a tortured artist rather than a role-player in support of the male (Rodin is danced by Oleg Gabyshev, with the lithe Lyubov Andreyeva as Camille). And he is one of the few choreographers who makes new full-length story ballets (along with John Neumeier) on such subject matter, a taste that is being cultivated outside of New York. If only one tortured artist portrait didn’t conflate with the next.
Susan Yung

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Petronio: Edgy and Established

The one and only Wendy Whelan. Photo: Julie Lemberger
Stephen Petronio's been making smart dances for decades now. At opening night at the Joyce, his welcoming remarks segued into Intravenous Lecture (during which he receives an IV administered by a doctor and tended to by a scrubs-clad attendant) originated by Steve Paxton in 1970, whom Petronio acknowledges as a mentor, alongside Trisha Brown. Petronio, whose company began in 1984, in this work still conveys the mindset of being a victim during that devastating onslaught of AIDS and the emergence of gay rights through Act Up's protests. But he's now part of the dance establishment, by mere fact of having endured for 25 years. Edginess is implied, significantly in the designers he chooses for his costumes, and his other collaborators.

But that doesn't negate the singularity of his choreographic voice, which has managed to remain its own thing despite sharing conceptual Judson progenitors with countless others. It's aging fairly gracefully as well, augmented by Petronio's keen curatorial eye when selecting repertory to revive. City of Twist (2002), on the program, feels like a classic, though it's timestamped somewhat by Tara Subkoff's deconstructed menswear costumes, and less so by Laurie Anderson's moody score that matches the charcoal urban projections. 

In her acceptance speech at last fall's Bessie Awards, when NYCB's Wendy Whelan won for sustained achievement, she mimed for contemporary choreographers to call her. Whether by chance or intent, Petronio took her up on it, drafting an old solo excerpt from Underland and calling it Ethersketch I. In a gold chain mail halter and wispy gauze skirt, Whelan danced the too-brief solo with her perpetual grace and spirituality, but I missed the earthbound gravity that Petronio's dancers use to explode off the ground. Architecture of Loss (his titles seem to follow a certain syntax) premiered, with music by Valgeir Sigurdsson, fascinating, ever-changing video panels by Rannvá Kunoy, and wispy/chunky knit costumes by Gudrun & Gudrun. A natural extension of his body of work, the 11 dancers bunched, paired off, and soloed a little less frenetically than past works, but always with his distinctive slashing limbs and whipping spins. I really missed Shila Tirabassi's cool, powerful presence (she retired), but marvelled at veteran Gino Grenek's continuing drive and unflagging energy. For that matter, Petronio's too.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Whitney Biennial Spreads Its Wings

Eleanor Hullihan and Nicole Mannarino in Devotion Study #1—The American Dancer, Photo: Paula Court
Sarah Michelson’s Devotion Study #1—The American Dancer is essentially 90 minutes of six dancers (Nicole Mannarino and Eleanor Hullihan do the lion's share) walking backwards in circles, arms extended 90º most of the time. It's alternately awe-inspiring, like an act of penance—doing the Chartres maze backwards—mind-numbing, hypnotic, sublime, impenetrable, enlightening, and exhausting. The sound (by Michelson with James Lo) includes a constant metronome ticking, a building/diminishing chord, a starting dialogue between her and Richard Maxwell that repeats right away, and a closing monologue spoken by Michelson live. Dancers join, and later leave, Mannarino one by one, folding a wing down as they veer close to one another, scribing loop after loop, like invisibly crocheting in space, occasionally stopping in relevé, or posed in a line. Mannarino has drenched her longsleeved jumpsuit with sweat by the end of what is, undeniably, devotion, but with scant rewards for the viewer.

Michelson’s set/lighting/costume designs have always been meticulous, even meriting an  exhibition at the American Realness festival last January. A huge neon caricature portrait appears on the far wall, and on the dancers’ booties, adding to self-aggrandizing feel, ironic or not. (Devotion, at the Kitchen, featured Socialist Realist style oil paintings of Michelson and others.)

The prominence of dance at the Biennial—the stage takes up most of the entire fourth floor—is in part a response to the idea that performance art was steadily encroaching, so why not feature “serious choreography”? But when there are many serious dance presenters throughout the city, what responsibility does the Whitney Museum of American Art hold in giving over so much territory to dance by two British-born choreographers (Michael Clark will take up residency later on)? With the dedication of thousands of square feet to this stage, they are taking away rare major exhibition opportunities for visual artists. (It should be noted that performing arts presenters are similarly expanding their purview to include visual arts where possible—the Met Opera’s gallery, BAM’s art program, and the Kitchen’s gallery among them.)

Other time-based art to occupy the fourth floor includes a residency by Charles Atlas, and  Maxwell's company will hold open rehearsals. Performances by Georgia Sagri (integrated into her cozy own room installation on the mezzanine level) and Dawn Kasper (think Collyer Brothers), music performances, and film screenings will take place as well, including Werner Herzog's Hearsay of the Soul, and a video selection by George Kuchar.

The visual art appropriately, feels like a survey of the moment. Trends are elusive, although some outlined by the curatorial staff (Elisabeth Sussman, Sondra Gilman, and Jay Sanders) are the acknowledgement of work by other artists, and the blurring of lines between media. Notes on some of the art: Sam Lewitt, who makes floor pieces with magnetic fluid that evoke some bubbling prehistoric swampground. Wu Tsang's atmospheric "green room" in a carved out niche on the fourth floor, next to Michelson's dressing room. Elaine Reichek, who has been a fixture on the New York scene for years, getting some well-deserved attention, with statements in needlework. K8 Hardy's wall of displaced feminine iconography. Cameron Crawford's handsome sculptures that straddle found-object abstraction and environmental activism. 

Joanne Malinowska's Duchampian bottle rack of horns, and other mixed media pieces with her elegant aesthetic. Oscar Tuazon's simultaneously solid and transparent Escheresque ground floor room installation of passages, stairs, and doors. Vincent Fecteau's intriguing colorful biomechanical sculptures. Nicole Eisenman's eye-popping painting and monotype installation, impressive for its abundance. And Forrest Bess' small, vibrant symbolic paintings that resonate with Andrew Masullo's playful, phosphorescent-colored canvases. The scale is generally speaking on the small side, in contrast to Michelson's grand (if opaque) ambition.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Grand Théậtre de Genève Dances Emanuel Gat

There's a profound honesty to Emanuel Gat's movement, although it's not without its particularities or embellishments. His recent work, Preludes & Fugues (to selections from Bach's Well Tempered Klavier), as danced by Ballet du Grand Théậtre de Genève (GTG) at the Joyce through March 4, has more filigree and shading than his previous works I've seen, which have bowled me over.

Photo: Vincent Lepresle
The GTG dancers' core language is ballet, and Gat's choreography is not derived from ballet. But impressively, they don't carry any stiffness or rote artifice from ballet into Gat's style. In his previous works I've seen, he and doppelganger Roy Assaf have been the best interpreters of the choreographer's sinous style, but there was always a rougher quality, perhaps in part because Gat came from athletics before he found dance. 

Here, the elegant (although still muscular) dancers have smoothed out any edges and spun Gat's already fluid phrases into even more refined silk. The control that ballet training has given them is used in other ways, such as in the final section, when a woman moves ever-so-slowly and seamlessly that we have time to savor all the shapes she makes with her arms and body—the same tools we have.

Gat doesn't chain his movement sections to the stops/starts of the different Bach selections he has chosen. There are moments of silence—never overly long—but they have the effect of making us pay closer attention to the music's relationship to the dance, and to appreciate it more while it's playing.

His movement sometimes evokes martial arts, a poised coil and strike, plentiful deep and grounded lunges. Energy ripples through the limbs and body, which feels so liberating when released in full expression. The dancers touch very little, and sometimes seem to threaten one another with ultra-close proximity and agression. It's all engrossing.

Gat designed the costumes, varying clothing in shades of black, and the lighting, effective when it drops suddenly to the dimmest moonlight. The dancers aren't pretending to be other people, and when they're onstage and not dancing, they pay attention to those who are. There's a heightened tension produced from all—performers and viewers—being focused on the movement and stage dynamics, a feeling of being present and collectively creating a moment in time.