|Annique Roberts in The Subtle One. Photo: Ayodele Casel|
A great distinction about Ronald Brown's 2014 dance, The Subtle One, is its jazz score by Jason Moran, played live by his trio in Tuesday's performance at the Joyce Theater. It had been awhile since I'd heard jazz played live for dance; so much of what is played live falls under the Bang on a Can style of new music, often without a melody or flowing pulse. So it was a pleasure to hear music by Moran, who scored the film Selma, plus a song by Tarus Mateen, who played bass.
The dance is, like its title, a subtle one. The smoldering star Annique Roberts begins moving at an even, moderate pace, marked by unfurling arms and a oft-repeated balance in which the she reaches forward yearningly with one arm. She is joined by the rest of the company, which breaks from briskly rhythmic ensemble sections into twos and threes, arms pumping like locomotive wheels. The work, while unspecific in story, refers to a stanza by Alan Harris about the strength of spirituality. The overall elegiac quality of the piece is enhanced by the white and peach-ombréd tunics, by Keiko Voltaire.