Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sally Silvers' Actual Size—A Study in Noir

Dylan Crossman and Melissa Toogood in rehearsal. Photo: Karen Robbins
After decades of creating dance, how does one find inspiration? Postmodern veteran Sally Silvers looked to film noir, and specifically Hitchcock, in Actual Size, performed at Roulette. The results were pleasingly robust, danced by a superb cast of Melissa Toogood, Alicia Ohs, Luke Miller, Carolyn Hall, and Dylan Crossman, plus the choreographer. 

In elegantly wrapped and fitted skirts and separates by Elizabeth Hope Clancy, the dancers moved confidently and eloquently. But rather than an absence of facial expression, as is so common in modern dance, they wore expressions similar to actors' in suspense films—suspicion, fear, hauteur, wistfulness. The movement contrasted to what I've seen from Silvers in the past, as seen in an early solo by the choreographer: a looser adherence to classical technique, a more personal interpretation. It may have been in part because Silvers' dancers for this project are among the most accomplished in the genre; Toogood and Crossman danced with Cunningham, the others are widely experienced and mature in their artistry and to a person spellbinding. 

Michael Schumacher's textured and varied sound score was consistently interesting, if vexing, to listen to and included text snippets, slinky trombone lines, and cartoon-music quotes. Ursula Scherrer designed the austere set and the video projections, geometric forms and black and white found footage and clips of the dancers off stage. It felt like Silvers has newfound vigor for the art which she has created for nigh on three decades.

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