IMPRESSIONS: Stephen Petronio Company at The Joyce Theater

IMPRESSIONS: Stephen Petronio Company at The Joyce Theater
Deirdre Towers/Follow @deirdre.towers on Instagram

By Deirdre Towers/Follow @deirdre.towers on Instagram
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Published on May 2, 2013
Julieta Cervantes

The Joyce Theatre, NYC- Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Concept & choreography Stephen Petronio Music: Son Lux played by Son Lux, Rob Moose, and C. J. Cameieri Living set: Janine Antoni Young People’s Chorus of New York conducted by Francisco J. Junez Dancers: Julian De Leon, Davalois Fearon, Joshua Green, Gino Grenek, Barrington Hinds, Natalie Mackessy, Jaqlin Medlock, Nicholas Sciscione, Emily Stone, Joshua Tuason

Deirdre Towers for The Dance Enthusiast
Outside the Joyce Theater, as the audience gathered to enter, black clad children filled the corner of 19th and 8th Avenue in a tidy reverse L. Their somber stillness warned you that someone had passed on, goading you to dip your head, and quiet your thoughts. Inside the theater, near the stage, body parts hovered near the ceiling; plastic legs attached at the hip splayed open, a floating torso proudly erect. Stephen Petronio lay on the stage with the curtain lifted just enough for us to gaze upon him.


Stephen Petronio Company; Like Lazarus Did (4/30) Pictured: Joshua Green; Photo Julieta Cervantes

A trumpeter and violinist led a procession of the children to fill one aisle and a balcony. Son Lux sang with a halting voice “I want to die” and the children answered “like Lazarus.” On and on they cried this desire, slowly and determinedly, until they fled, the musicians to the corner by the stage, and the chorus into the balcony. The curtain rose to show the company, in white transparent, fashionably jagged, standing upstage in two rows facing the audience with their arms down, their hands curved open, presumably ready to receive.





Stephen Petronio Company Like Lazarus Did (4/30);Pictured L-R: Nicholas Sciscione, Joshua Tuason, Davalois Fearon, Joshua Green
Photo Julieta Cervantes

Long after much vigorous ensemble dancing, Davalois Fearon snapped me into high alert with her subtle tension shifts from taut to relaxed. The breath-like sensuality of her dancing was so riveting, I found myself trying to analyze why? Was she the muse, the guide showing the others how to find the ropes to climb free of a restrictive spine? The other dancers, flinging their arms straight and strong, their sculpted long legs flashing in fan kicks, had a powerful, fleshy presence, whereas Fearon’s was curiously and adventurously spiritual. The male solos – both vertical and the final horizontal one – spoke most to Petronio’s printed statement of his intention in the program, “The desire to break free from the limitation of the body.” The undulations, squirms, and ripples of these solos suggested that the pleasure of discovering life in every muscle overthrew any ethereal aspirations.





Stephen Petronio Company ;Like Lazarus Did (LLD 4/30); Pictured: Nicholas Sciscione Photo Julieta Cervantes

Petronio states that “ the contemplation of death and immortality – led me to want to break out of the theatrical frame.” That ambition led to strong collaborations. The chorus, with its haunting, innocent ache, and instrumental music, rarely in the same tempo or rhythm of the dancers, were inspiring and unpredictable. The pairing of the trumpet with the violin is peculiarly effective. Sitting close to the stage, I missed the juxtaposition of the sculpture with the swirl of activity, but kudos for that rare added dimension. Ken Tabachnick’s lighting was superb. At one point, the dancers all became larger due to some magical glow, only to shrink in a scene soon after.



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