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Impressions of "together + separately"

Impressions of "together + separately"
Melanie Greene/Follow @MethodsDance on Twitter

By Melanie Greene/Follow @MethodsDance on Twitter
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Published on November 23, 2015
Photo: Ed Forti

A Reunion of Artistry with Neil Greenberg, Yvonne Meier & Jennifer Monson


Curated by Stacy Grossfield

November 5-7, 2015

Collaborating Artists: Chris Jaeger-Brown (Yvonne Meier)

Performers: Arielle Dykstra, Kyli Kleven, Angie Pittman, Rhea Speights (Jennifer Monson); Molly Lieber and Connor Voss (Neil Greenberg)

Pictured above: Rhea Speights & Angie Pittman

They say history never repeats itself, but similar images do find ways to cycle across our paths once, twice, maybe three times. Yvonne Meier, Neil Greenberg, and Jennifer Monson are no strangers to sharing space or the stage. Meier and Monson appeared at Movement Research at Judson Church and Danspace Project in 2011, and I’m sure dance archives can take us even farther back. together + separately combines the experimental forces of three post-modern downtown darlings for an evening of movement construction and contemplation. Befitting the name, they present works separately, as well as one piece together.

Meier begins the evening in an untitled collaboration with drummer Chris Jaeger-Brown. She allows Jaeger-Brown’s beat to move through her body as she finds her way into the space with a series of isolated gestures. Her fingers wiggle and break at the joints, ricocheting into her hips and settling into the soft creases of her knees. Reminiscent of Meier’s early work Brother of Gogolorez, 2011, an acoustic drum set reverberates through a free-form flow, while an amplified voice pours through the sound system. Jaeger-Brown completes a numerical countdown before drumming through a solo that activates the space, gradually overshadowing Meier’s more minimalist movement. 

A quart of four dancers with their legs in the air at 90 degree angles. They look like they're hovering over the side of a building
Kyli Kleven, Arielle Dykstra, Rhea Speights & Angie Pittman in Jennifer Monson’s Folkdances for an Untidy Cardinal. Photo by Ed Forti

During Monson’s Folkdances for an Untidy Cardinal, voice activates body as variations of the sound "ooo-eeee" jerks four bodies like rubber bands. Syncopated rhythms stretch tightly around muscles and explode into extended feet and tossed arms causing torsos to snap in a myriad of directions. The repetition and cycles of the sound and floor patterns arouse a delightful anticipation, but the length of the piece eventually causes our attention to wane. Determined to find a way back into the piece, siren sounds answer our call. The women let out high-pitched wails that coast through space and crash like waves, thrillingly causing the fibers in our ears to ring long after the piece is over.

After intermission, the audience rearrange in a circle for Greenberg’s this solo. Testing the temperature of the wood grain, he tiptoes around the space. His costume illustrates an uncomplicated union of jeans meet medical scrubs as Greenberg methodically takes care to invite us into this solo with his eyes -- a curious investigation and unspoken dialogue. He accentuates the volume of the circular space through repetition that sustains our curiosity and propels us into a guessing game of intention. Although never quite sure of his objective, I’m content to be along for the ride.

During Greenberg's This d’ Occasion (a study), a trio composes abstract landscapes while borrowing movement that echoes from one body to another. Connor Voss shyly occupies small chunks of space along the perimeter, while Molly Lieber seizes unoccupied space in the center. Greenberg unassumingly commandeers territory not already taken. Lieber displays the epitome of controlled surrender as she suspends one leg with the grace of a gazelle only to punctuate the gesture with a thunderous thud as her foot crashes into the wooden floor. She defies the nagging direction often given to dancers to quietly ‘roll through your feet,'  and composes an alluring serenade of sound.

Yvonne Meier holds Greenbergs foot as he supports himself on the floor with his forarms. Monson dances in the background
Yvonne Meier (in red), Jennifer Monson & Neil Greenberg; Photo by Ed Forti

Meier, Greenberg, and Monson conclude the evening with improvisation score pairings that share space, but not intention or style. Their interactions negotiate deep listening with comedic self-absorption. This collaborative cocktail and the periodic chiming of an iPhone timer suggests a playful investigation not meant to be taken too seriously. Monson is a topsy turvy firecracker. Meier’s sassiness pokes through her other-wise composed presence, and Greenberg brings forth a quirky jokester.

For those familiar with dance history or these particular artists, together + separately offers a satisfying reunion of relationships and artistry. For younger artists, or those new to the scene, some homework may be required to understand and contextualize the evening within the broader post-modern dance lineage.


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