Dance Review: In Pam Tanowitz and Simone Dinnerstein's New Work for Goldberg Variations, a Daunting Idea Works Just Right | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Dance Review: In Pam Tanowitz and Simone Dinnerstein's New Work for Goldberg Variations, a Daunting Idea Works Just Right

Posted by on Sat, Oct 7, 2017 at 5:24 PM

An uncostumed rehearsal of New Work for Goldberg Variations - PHOTO BY MARINA LEVITSKAYA
  • photo by Marina Levitskaya
  • An uncostumed rehearsal of New Work for Goldberg Variations
Pam Tanowitz Dance & Simone Dinnerstein:
New Work for Goldberg Variations
★★★★½
Friday, Oct. 6 & Saturday, Oct. 7, 8 p.m.

Duke's Reynolds Industries Theater, Durham

In complete darkness, Simone Dinnerstein draws out the first few notes of the aria that begins Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Then, slowly, a stage light fills in the outline of the pianist and a group of figures scattered upstage, softly illuminated in periwinkle. When the aria returns after thirty variations, they gather in a similar formation, and the light closes in on Dinnerstein’s final gesture, levitating just above the keys.

“What a pleasure it has been to escape the solitude of the piano,” Dinnerstein writes in the program notes for New Work for Goldberg Variations, her collaboration with Pam Tanowitz Dance, which had its world premiere at Duke Performances last night and repeats tonight. What a pleasure, Pam Tanowitz and her dancers seem to say, building their own pathways through Bach’s score and Dinnerstein’s playing. And what a pleasure to watch the outcome of this Duke Performances co-commissioned collaboration, in which nearly everything feels right.

Bach’s score is a well known thing, but here it is a living, breathing thing. Dinnerstein, who has been playing Goldberg for years, treats it generously, giving each note a world unto itself. Through these seven dancers, Tanowitz’s choreography devises its own language, idiosyncratic yet entirely consistent. Gestures live on the cusp of familiarity, and the brilliantly differentiated cast is indefatigable in following the movement to its never-ends.

Christine Flores’s fouette turns are slightly off-kilter; at one point, downstage, Netta Yerushalmy balances an outstretched leg with shoulders severely shrugged. Lindsey Jones emerges from the wings, lightning-quick, her attitude jump like a broken exclamation mark. Their straight faces dare us to take the movement on its own terms. (The outer layer of their costumes, designed by the duo Reid & Harriet, is a sheer candy-colored film that enacts two qualities simultaneously: it billows outward, but only so far, to contain and cushion each dancer’s trajectory through space.)

Not once did I think, This is a ballet, though others might have. If the word must be used, it’s more like a ball-change ballet: one in which feet are flexed and grounded and partnering is equitable and playful. (As Tanowitz noted in an interview with the INDY, you won’t see men lifting women here.) Part of Tanowitz’s project is to cast classical dance vocabulary in new, unexpected arrangements; she’s found a solid match in Dinnerstein and in Bach’s canonical piece.

In this work, every duet is actually a trio, every trio a quartet, and so on; all the dancers are, of course, sharing the stage not only with one another but also with Dinnerstein, who plays barefoot from center stage. At first, the relationship between the dancers and piano was unclear to me, but the intentionality of the artists' approach ultimately erased that concern. The dancers and piano seem drawn to one another in a way that is mysterious but fitting.

This is because New Work for Goldberg Variations is a project in which all involved—Dinnerstein, Tanowitz, and the dancers—have so transparently given themselves space to articulate their own interpretations: of Bach’s score, of the connection between music and dance, and of ways to fill a stage. This extends to us, too. During the opening and closing aria, I was watching Dinnerstein and the dancers, but I was also watching the man sitting directly in front of me luxuriate in moving his fingers in a gentle approximation of piano playing.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

want to go to all! where and when?????

by Amanda Kyser on Sick of Facebook Invites? UNC-Chapel Hill Just Launched an App for Tracking Events on Campus. (Arts)

Not to be picky, but Harding was the first *American* female skater to land a triple axel in competition.

by xtinaxtina on Movie Review: I, Tonya Cribs Scorsese's Tricks for a Uniquely American Tale of Crass Competition and Class Conflict (Arts)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

want to go to all! where and when?????

by Amanda Kyser on Sick of Facebook Invites? UNC-Chapel Hill Just Launched an App for Tracking Events on Campus. (Arts)

Not to be picky, but Harding was the first *American* female skater to land a triple axel in competition.

by xtinaxtina on Movie Review: I, Tonya Cribs Scorsese's Tricks for a Uniquely American Tale of Crass Competition and Class Conflict (Arts)

The Carolina, the Varsity, now the Chelsea. These movie houses were among the reasons we moved here 25 years ago. …

by JO in CHNC on The Chelsea Theater, the Last Old-School Art Cinema Standing in Chapel Hill, Might Close at the End of the Year (Arts)

The Chelsea Theatre has to be saved! Chapel Hill and the Triangle would be greatly diminished without it. Other theatres, …

by Jonathan H on The Chelsea Theater, the Last Old-School Art Cinema Standing in Chapel Hill, Might Close at the End of the Year (Arts)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation