|Joshua Tuason and Melissa Toogood in Locomotor. Photo: Yi-Chun Wu|
The work's premise is simple: movement, both forward and backward. In a leadoff solo, guest artist Melissa Toogood slips perfectly into Petronio's precise, demanding style that somehow requires both dangerous kineticism and stillness at the same time. The company's remaining eight dancers enter in pairs, carving arcs from and into the wings. Two men, one in front of the other, hold hands as they dart about the stage—a simple, ingenious device, and one of those "why haven't we seen this before?" moments—and pivot and loop their arms like ballroom dancers; at a point, one kneels and receives a kiss on the head from his partner. It's like they're locked into the idea of forward progression, and yet their mutual bond is as much a necessity.
|Barrington Hinds, Nicholas Sciscione in Locomotor. Photo: Yi-Chun Wu|
Surprisingly, the most captivating move, and one that is clearly not easy to pull off with grace, is the reverse leap, which occupies the final thrilling movement. Prior to that, Nicholas Sciscione and Josh D Green—both muscular and dazzlingly fleet—partner Toogood, flinging her high, or feet overhead, flipping her around a leg rotisserie-style, pulling her from a prone position as she flutters her arrowed feet in unexpected, delicate battements.
Petronio danced the other premiere on the Joyce program (through April 13th), Stripped. This brief solo is to Philip Glass' Etude No. 5; the visual punchline is designed by artist Janine Antoni—a headwrap of neckties, which meets a linear fate in the finale. No further spoilers. The third piece, Strange Attractors, was created in 1999; its silken pajamas (by Ghost) and Michael Nyman score are the only indications of its pre-millenial age. It showcases well the standout, eclectic company, in particular the ageless Gino Grenek and an eloquent Jaqlin Medlock. The program rightly travels forward—and backward—with gusto.