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The best of dance 2003

Too right feet 

The best of dance 2003

Toteboard ready? Check. Running shoes on? Check.

American Dance Festival
One Can't Eat Applause, Compagnie Maguy Marin
Marin's Scripps Award acceptance speech

Maguy Marin's first act of artistic conscience indicted U.S. complicity in the politics of disappearance and the economic and political exploitation of Central and Latin America. Then her bold Scripps speech advocated dance as resistance, a "weapon" that could disarm the oppression she found in war, global economics, the media, entertainment and overconsumption (www.americandancefestival.org/Archives/scripps/marinspeech.html).

Enact Oneself, Akiko Kitamura, International Choreographers Concert

Kitamura gave audiences the creeps as she explored the degree to which everyone else enacts the self in this disturbing examination of human manipulation. Dancer Matthew Sweeney proved you didn't even have to touch someone to effectively box them in. Brrr.

Shen Wei Dance Arts, Beyond Resonance
Shen Wei Dance Arts, The Rite of Spring

Was the nagging sense of anticlimax around the conclusion of Shen's Rite of Spring modern dance's equivalent of the Matrix phenomenon? Last year's part one was so great a forward leap for Wei and dance, that the absence of a similar quantum jump here left us ironically disappointed with its mere sustained brilliance. Wei used an icy visual palette to make dancers appear to go back and forth between two and three dimensions in Beyond Resonance--a colder rendering of the surreal world we spied in Near the Terrace.

Common Law, 2 Near the Edge
Excerpt from Lux Aeterna, Alban Elved Dance
Vanessa and Vanessa, Amy Chavasse

So that's what North Carolina dance looks like. Common Law showed a couple laying uncompromising hands on anger and attraction, and Lux Aeterna avoided cliches while exploring paranoid schizophrenia with clinical accuracy. Audiences also noted the intensity and technique in Amy Chavasse's elliptical, spoken-word about sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf.

Carry-on, Jessica Hill
It Was a Cheap Motel. The Sheets are Clean Now, Marisa Gruenberg
Five of my 40 Million Parts in Under 12 Minutes, Sara Juli
See Level, David Dorfman
Incantation (work in progress), Stafford Berry

If the body has millions of lines of code in it, we watched Jessica Hill begin decompiling them in Carry-on. As she writhed and whipped across the floor, the interior facts unspooled, in image upon image, before an ironic denouement about the inescapable bomb of memory. At the same student concert, Marisa Gruenberg had suspects in trenchcoats and various stages of undress implicating each other as they walked an obscure labyrinth of manipulation and desire in the film-noir homage, It Was a Cheap Motel. The Sheets are Clean Now. A gifted quintet enacted a hard-boiled version of Venus on the Half Shell to a Chet Baker soundtrack, before the orgy really got carnivorous.

In Five of my 40 Million Parts in Under 12 Minutes, Sara Juli gave a humorous, hyper-critical play-by-play commentary on the moves she made while making them, before arm and upper body gestures ultimately suggested that reaching for perfection is a lot like reaching for the moon.

David Dorfman's imaginative, funny and disturbing excerpt from See Level had Paul Matteson and Jennifer Nugent as two characters who literally try on each other's bodies, while a different sort of possession figured into Stafford Berry's promising Incantation.

Carolina Ballet
Lost and Found, Lynn Taylor-Corbett
Grosse Fuge, Robert Weiss

A strong man brought to his knees, another man haunted by the vivid memory of a lost partner, and the poignant, empty hands of helpers, extended to those who cannot take them--these images deeply resonated in Lynn Taylor-Corbett's moving meditation on the events of 9/11. The austere logic of Robert Weiss' dramatic study in black and white overcame the Ciompi Quartet's inexcusably messy reading of the title work by Beethoven.

Melissa Chris
birdseye, at Independent Dancemakers and ADF
Sap, at The Yard

After the initial one-liner, birdseye got down to business--in Chris' dramatic pas de deux for Sara Procopio and Jesse Zaritt of Shen Wei's dance company. The pair's sustained proximity, in one part of a much larger stage--and the complete absence of anything else on it--reinforced the crucial nature of continuous contact for this couple: Birds of a feather have to flock together. Chris' summer Schoenberg Residency on Martha's Vineyard produced a potent metaphor on healing, self-awareness, first contact between cultures--and the mistakes both injured and healers make in search of succor.

N.C. Dance Festival
I often imagine myself ... , Allison Waddell
Duet for Four, Martha Connerton

If Waddell's excerpt from the evening-length To Once Upon an Ever After had this much impact, I wonder what the rest of the show did. Imagine's light and playful air doesn't mean that the choreographer--and the audience--aren't doing some really heavy lifting as they confront the potentially darker theme of our relationships with food with laughter, of all things. Martha Connerton's fast-paced quartet--for two dancers and two chairs--managed to keep two steps and four legs ahead of the audience.

Enloe Dance
Pieces of Mind, Jodi Staub Obeid

The Enloe tradition continued, with Obeid following in the footsteps of Tiffany Rhynard and Heather Mims in producing a major regional work with a troupe of high school dancers. In this large-ensemble piece, choreographer and students first personally researched and then enacted the world of Alzheimer's Disease, in a humane, fourth-wall-breaking performance.

Independent Dancemakers
Woven, B. J. Sullivan
Peal, Jennifer Nugent

This prestigious, long-running annual showcase was the site for extended and fruitful off-season collaborations between local notables and ADF students and faculty. Nugent's original solo extended its inquiry into physical representations of the feminine when she added Pam Pietro to the work; while B. J. and Sean Sullivan sweated through a couple's intense negotiations of physical and emotional balance to Philip Glass' String Concerto.

5 Chick Posse
Unfinished Business, Dena Guvetis & Dancers
A Movie by Godot, Lindsey Greene
In Transit, Julee Snyder

Guvetis' moody, structured metaphor explored a woman in the process of becoming, as three still dancers, representing various facets of a personality, negotiated for a fourth to join, and complete them all. Snyder used the traveling class to explore perpetual transition and transitivity, while a single flashlight made Susan Quinn's solo at the end of Greene's Movie seem lit by memory alone.

Tyler Walters
String Theory, Raleigh Dance Theater
Vigil, Duke Ballet Choreolab

Walters' balletic interpretation of a difference engine--precursor to the modern computer--showed us what dancing in base 2 looks like, though his work clearly challenged the Raleigh Dance Theater students. Like his Five Geometric Dances did for Carolina Ballet, his Vigil used simple forms to get at not so simple relationships--in a representation of a response to Sept. 11.

Choreo Collective
Mrs. Someone, Suzanne Cantwell
Ready, Caroline Williford

Black comedy on relationships, as Cantwell followed debs in '50s finery from dismal first fratboy date to hara kiri with bridal bouquets. Williford's work focused on date prep, as she desperately cleaned, ironed & dressed--but not always in that order.

Meredith Dance Theater
The Spaces Between Us, L.D. Burris
Hearth, Carol Kyles Finley

Nikki Dublin did Burris proud in her spring interpretation, while Finley's focus on medieval women got at the sacred nature of secular home work.

N.C. State Dance Theater
The Birth Day, Tamar Rogoff
Little Cabbage, Megan Marvel
Listen to Me, Jack Arnold
Songs, Robin Harris

Rogoff's surreal, airy sequences suggested the hallucinations of a woman about to give birth. The most moving? One in which six interns stand, with stethoscopes placed on the chest of the person beside them, and, one by one, begin to smile at what they hear. Marvel's dramatic solo to Yo Yo Ma explored the dwindling resources of a woman in hard time. And Arnold's and Harris' differing experiments in structure provided a set of symbolic rebuses whose crafted surfaces invited and then defied easy explanation. EndBlock

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