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Dance New Amsterdam Presents "RAW Directions"

Dance New Amsterdam Presents "RAW Directions"
Trina Mannino/Follow @Trinamannino on Twitter

By Trina Mannino/Follow @Trinamannino on Twitter
View Profile | More From This Author

Published on February 19, 2012
Rasalie Knox

with works by Shannon Gillen, Elisha Clark Halpin/Etch Dance Company, Philippa Kaye, and Elke Luyten and Kira Alker

Dance New Amsterdam Presents RAW Directions

 

at Dance New Amsterdam's theater in Lower Manhattan, Thursday February 9, 2012, 8PM

with works by Shannon Gillen, Elisha Clark Halpin/Etch Dance Company, Philippa Kaye, and Elke Luyten and Kira Alker


Dance New Amsterdam’s RAW Directions program challenges choreographers to construct dance with elements or themes they have never used before.This evening the unusual elements include: hula-hoops, a golden chair and the theme of the shipping industry. All are presented with varying degrees of quirky movement and text.

RAW Directions: Land of Maverick; Unbranded by Phillipa Kaye, Photo Rasalie Knox

While some choreographers’ experiments work better than others, it is refreshing to see artists consciously depart from their usual inclinations. Philippa Kaye mentions that she often creates site-specific works (her latest took place in Central Park) and that she was constructing a group piece from a pre-existing solo. Elisha Clark Halpin reveals that she particularly avoided creating a story because she often produces narrative work. Elke Luyten and her director, Kira Alker, set out to create material from daily routines and pedestrian movement without adding any theatrical elements. Shannon Gillen, takes “an in-depth physical analysis of the international shipping industry…”

The strongest works of the evening belong to Luyten and Alker along with Gillen. That is not to say the other pieces lack potential, it’s just that Luyten, Alker, and Gillen’s intentions feel clearer.
 

RAW Directions: Inertia, Part I by Elke Luyten and Kira Alker Photo Rasalie Knox


As Kaye’s work-in-progress, Land of Maverick; Unbranded, moves forward, American nostalgia crops up. I notice the peace sign, the spiritual “Get on Board, Little Children” and even the 1990s computer game, Oregon Trail. The nods to American cultural reference points don’t effectively bring the work together for me, but I do I enjoy Kaye’s experiments with use of space, particularly her construction of an entire solo within the perimeter of a hula-hoop. I wanted to see more instances like that.
 

RAW Directions: Land of Maverick; Unbranded by Phillipa Kaye, Photo Rasalie Knox


The Sky is Empty, choreographed by Halpin, is a dynamic duet performed by Michele Dunleavy and Megan Moore. It is dramatic with dim lighting and opera music. While both dancers are clearly focused and technically adept in fast floor work and daring balances, I don’t understand their relationship to one another. Perhaps a little bit of narrative would have helped?

In Inertia, Part I Luyten stares intently at the audience as she moves across the stage repeating an “Irish Jig meets the 1950’s pony step” pattern. Although she looks hysterical with her ponytail violently swaying side to side, she never cracks a smile. Luyten’s clarity throughout Inertia compels, especially as she makes intricate gestures with her fingers and wrists around a gold chair.
 

RAW Directions Botlek by Shannon Gillen (presented as a group piece every night except Thursday), Photo@ Rasalie Knox


Who knew that the shipping industry could be choreographed?It is in Botlek, a duet from Gillen that is the final work of the evening. The dancers wear rubber suits that remind me of the Japanese radioactivity testers I have read of in the news. Gillen does an excellent job setting the scene and capturing what it is like to work on a freighter. I can almost smell the fish and see the ocean’s mist. I empathize with the individuals who work on their ships day in and day out performing the same dreary mechanical tasks. Gillen describes what seems a very undancerly subject with surprising inventiveness.

 

RAW Directions Botlek by Shannon Gillen (presented as a group piece every night except Thursday), Photo@ Rasalie Knox


I admire each choreographers’ willingness to step out of their comfort zones and take a risk, and I look forward to seeing their subsequent performances based on based the work presented in RAW Directions.

 

 

For More Info On RAW Directions
Choreographers with ten years or more choreographing experience are encouraged apply for the next season (dates TBA).
For more information about Raw Directions, click here

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

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