Impressions of Wendy Osserman Dance Company 40th Anniversary Season
Time is the Word.
April 20-23, 2016 at Theater for the New City, LES
Choreography: Wendy Osserman and Wendy Osserman and Dancers for Quick Time
Performance: Lauren Ferguson, Cori Kresge, Joshua Tuason, Emily Vetsch and Wendy Osserman
Musical Director: Skip La Plante; Musicians; Skip La Plante and Harry Mann
Set Design: Sanya Kantarovsky
Lighting Design: Alex Bartenieff
Costumes: Cori Kresge
Pictured above: Joshua Tuason and Cori Kresge of Wendy Osserman Dance
We applaud. Dancers run backstage to change out of their costumes. We all go out for dinner. Maybe a piece will be seen again, maybe not. Even if it is, an original performer may have retired by the work’s next go round. From one show to another, dance is never the same, and unlike Mother Nature’s seasons, a season for a dance company often lasts as little as three days.
Time is precious. That Wendy Osserman, has braved the trends of NYC’s dance world for 40 years is a worthy achievement.
Steeped in history, Osserman has worked with a variety of legendary artists, which range from the 20th century pioneers Martha Graham and Jose Limón to the post-modern Robert Ellis Dunn and Kei Takei. In her new solo, Timed, the second piece of her 40th Anniversary evening, Osserman — attractive, high-cheek boned, dressed in a snake skin-like unitard with a flowing skirt — plucks, nudges, and tugs the air around her as if searching. She might kick up her leg to tilt her body, only to fall out of position and roll to the floor. She likes to hang in off-balance positions and teeter. Caressing the stage, she speaks about her uncomfortable relationship with time. “If time was a good mother,” she says, “she’d wait for me.”
The evening begins with Udjat, a trio made in 1985, which premiered at Danspace Project originally; tonight it features Lauren Ferguson, Cori Kresge, and Emily Vetsch. Greeted by enigmatic sounds, the program relates that we are listening to Tibetan bells composed by Paul Horn. His music evokes a sense of perpetuity. Imagine sand blowing through pyramids of Egypt. An Udjat, the program explains, is represented by the Egyptian hieroglyph of the sacred eye — a symbol of completeness.
Cori Kresge’s white arms wave metronomically out of the darkness as she hangs upside down carried by a pillar-like Lauren Ferguson. The dancers, dimly lit, wear ink-black fabric panels along the front and back of their bodies. They appear stoic and linear. The women create careful shapes using their bodies to draw angles on and over each other. The ritualistic mood sets the tone for an appreciation of time’s passage.
But, the pièce de résistance of the evening is Quick Time, also a premiere, and a bountiful work, richly textured with visual, aural, and physical collaborations.
Projected designs by Sanya Kantarovsky, lively arrangements of color and shape reminiscent of Matisse’s cut outs, set a scene. Each projection brings to light a new environment making the stage into an ever-changing forest of sorts, where the music and dancers — the flora and fauna of each locale — constantly arouse our attention and curiosity.
Skip La Plante’s whimsical conglomeration of homemade instruments — bowls, tubes, PVC pipes, and something like a thin, narrow table called a “tuning board” take up the stage to our left. La Plante’s playing of his “made” instruments along with his bass, and Harry Mann’s gorgeous clarinet and saxophone work add magic.
At the start of Quick Time, Joshua Tuason, known for his standout dancing with Stephen Petronio, performs an exquisite duet with Harry Mann on clarinet. Dressed in white jeans and a t-shirt, Tuason’s first reaction to Mann’s playing is a cryptic, irritated twitch of his hand. The initial spasm grows fuller, less idiosyncratic, more dancey, until finally Tuason, who has appeared to be following the clarinet’s lead in conversation, takes control, beckoning Mann off the stage like a snake who has out-charmed his charmer.
Emily Vetsch, in another section, lives in a world where she cannot bend her limbs. This leads to much frustration: odd balances, wobbles, and falls. I don’t quite know what to make of it, but she is compelling. Her spasms are complimented by Lauren Ferugson who projects elegance and calm. Fun ensues as Tuason and Kresge enter the fray, and the group bounces off one another’s energy, peering into themselves and the landscapes they encounter.
Kresge is so at home dancing. A sparkling, natural imaginative mover, she has a special ability to connect complex, random moments with ease. It’s a pleasure to get lost in her interpretations.
I do hope Quick Time and this cast will have the opportunity to be seen again.
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