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Nicholas Andre Dance

by Victoria Dombroski

December 20, 2009 -- Joyce Theater Soho, New York, NY

I was amazed by my eagerness to dart my eyes from dancer to dancer around the stage, in suspense of how and where each individual would move next in this arrangement of pieces choreographed by Nick Ross. This particular kind of engagement with the audience and energy that the Nicholas Andre dancers exuded was remarkable. These talented artists, as well as athletes, performed in such a way that I was truly hooked to follow their stream of energy wherever it took them next.

The first piece, “Wired,” set to the music of Steve Reich, was, in keeping with its title, full of electricity, with passion radiating from the dancers’ movement quality and directional patterns covering the entirety of the stage. I had a sense of frenzy watching this, and the costumes contributed to this sense:  black unitards with a lime-green pattern of lines going in every direction. The dancers executed the movements with such strength and power, so many graceful and beautiful landings from such extravagant jumps and turns preceding it. There were motions throughout this dance where a very quick, small, sharp movement would be performed after such a long extent of constant motion. The pause after the small sharp movement was so engaging, especially when the dancers made eye contact with the audience or with each other. This continued to create a sense of wonder and interest that wrapped me into the piece even further. It gave a sense of the sparks amidst all the flowing energy.

“Undercurrent” was danced to an extremely beautiful piece of music by Arvo Part “Speigel Im Speigel.” The music alone was so expressive, and with the culmination of fluid, reaching, space occupying movement, it was impossible to take my eyes off the dancers. In deep red costumes, two men sat on the floor as the women moved in flowing steps. The men and women paired off and partnered with each other in various lifts and interactions. There was an immense beauty to the two couples performing different choreography simultaneously, portraying a feeling of give and take, struggle and peace, but the peace didn’t last. At one point all four artists met in the center and there was a time of unison, understanding, perhaps comfort in the same sentiment releasing from all four bodies and souls. But then the emotion changed again, and one perceived an inner struggle and a battle against oneself. In the choreography there was a repetition of the arms reaching out, moving all the way from stage right to left, with the palms facing the audience. It was as if the dancers were saying “this is who we are, these are our inner struggles exposed, accept it or don’t.” This piece left me aching and solemn.  It was breathtaking.

“Elegy” was another world premiere by these talented artists that was set to the music of Phillip Glass. The dancers moved together, yet each dancer had an individual quality and sense of loneliness. The light purple costumes and dim lighting set a somber mood, and the dancing fulfilled that with movements of grace and elegance. The dancers executed the jumps and turns with ease and effortlessness. There were times when one dancer would attempt to interact with the others, but in return was no reaction. It was as if they were the only one present, and nothing they did could make any other dancer acknowledge their presence. This contrast of one dancer moving and struggling while the other dancers were in complete stillness amplified the contrast and struggle. It concluded with the bodies dragged close together overlapping, and as the lights dimmed, the last standing dancer knelt and slowly lowered his head, giving a sense of either defeat or relief, depending on how you individually perceived it.

The most lighthearted of the dances was “Until Blue,” danced to a piece of music by the Vitamin String Quartet. The backdrop was a bright blue sky with clouds, giving these dancers an even greater a sense of lift and buoyancy. The total distance of ground these dancers must have covered throughout this piece could have gotten them through a half marathon. The movement was continuous, and as dancers exited and entered the stage I was eager to see in what direction they would fly next. There was a sheer enjoyment of motion through air, especially at the very end when the dancers all landed flat on the ground, in complete relief and happiness. It portrayed the pleasure of living, movement through space, and the ability to use the body to express oneself. What we saw from these artists was pure love of dance and the wonderful ability to share that gift with others.

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