Dance Enthusiast Review-Impressions of: Nadia Tykulsker's "Saw You Yesterday" at Standard Toycraft

Dance Enthusiast Review-Impressions of: Nadia Tykulsker's "Saw You Yesterday" at Standard Toycraft
Trina Mannino/Follow @Trinamannino on Twitter

By Trina Mannino/Follow @Trinamannino on Twitter
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Published on October 7, 2016
Photo: Maria Baranova

With Jennifer Harge's "mourn and never tire"

Impressions of Nadia Tykulsker’s Saw You Yesterday

With Jennifer Harge’s mourn and never tire

September 25, 2016 at 5pm

Standard Toykraft, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Saw You Yesterday Performers: Katie Dean, Jennifer Harge, Tara Sheena, EmmaGrace Skove-Epes, Nadia Tykulsker and Lydia Mokdessi

Music: Christine Hucal

Set: HIroko Ishikawa

Costumes: Stevie May

Mourn and never tire performers: Rodney Brown, Katie Dean, Jennifer Harge, Tara Sheena, EmmaGrace Skove-Epes and Nadia Tykulsker

In Nadia Tykulsker’s Saw You Yesterday, a gaggle of women casually chat while pinning photos and memorabilia to a lancet-arch panel. Tea lights flicker nearby, which shrouds the scene in mystery. Are we about to witness an homage to an adolescent séance?

This is the opening to a shared evening between Tykulsker and Jennifer Harge at Standard Toykraft in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. While the pieces they present differ in tone and subject, their subversion of traditional dance forms through movement and text unifies the evening. 

Dancers in a tablau in the center of the platform. A dancer in red pants stands. While another drapes over another dancer's lap.
From L-R: EmmaGrace Skove-Epes (standing), Katie Dean, Tara Sheena and Jennifer Harge. Photo: Maria Baranova.

Hiroko Ishikawa’s ambitious set piece of a circular wood stage lays at the center of Saw You Yesterday, a work for six women. Both Nadia Tykulsker and Lydia Mokdessi are harnessed to this platform. They manually rotate it as their castmates dance on its surface. Katie Dean, a platinum-coiffed vision in a billowy black blouse, cuts the air with buttery precision. She’s effortlessly cool, an opposing force to her foil, Tara Sheena, who weaves crisp technique with cartoonish stomps. These two, along with EmmaGrace Skove-Epes and Jennifer Harge, freeze before engaging in a flurry of tangled limbs and banter. They could be a special diorama exhibit at the Natural History Museum: the inner lives of twentysomething women.

Their performance progresses into an insouciant and jagged presentation. Snippets of overlapping remarks — “I’m open/Don’t let me die/Grandma got sick” — register as Harge jiggles the skin of her relaxed bicep. Another dancer crawls like a seal and hurls herself across the platform. Tykulsker occasionally speaks directions into a microphone, “No more flopping/Give me your most virtuosic/This is where I want you to interrupt.” It’s chaotic, like a boozy slumber party gone awry. It’s also skillfully developed mayhem with a deliberate rhythm.

Each performer exhibits nuance and levity, which keeps the work from unhinging into the abyss. Once the infectious energy reaches fever pitch in the ragtag Standard Toykraft space, they abruptly exit. And the world, dimmer and duller than moments before, briefly stops spinning.

Jennifer Harge lays on her back while another dancer curls up next to her. Her face is hidden. Nadia Tykulsker knees besides them while EmmaGrace Skove Epps stands over them.
Tara Sheena (in shadow), Jennifer Harge (laying down), Nadia Tykulsker, and EmmaGrace Skove-Epes (standing). Photo: Maria Baranova.

Following Saw You Yesterday, Tykulsker invited fellow collaborator Jennifer Harge to share mourn and never tire. Harge, an African-American Detroit-based performer, choreographer, and educator, reads her work description out loud as an entry point into what is described as a movement installation. She says:

 “...I have a habit of acting out memories as if they’re still part of the present; I guess it’s my way of feeling connected to the past. And as I continue to lose more black family members — distant and otherwise — I feel an urgency and responsibility about keeping them in the present…”

Harge requests that we follow her into a narrow five-floor stairwell where her six performers have assumed a position on the steps. Running in place, they recite the names of people of color who have been killed by police along with the city and date of their death (beginning with the year 2000 and ending with September 2016). It’s a cacophony of sound in which pages and pages of names are announced in succession. Some names are familiar from the news while others are new. Each name stings, regardless if it’s the first or hundredth time hearing it. The artists, slick with sweat and breathless, act as a vessel for the countless individuals and their stories. mourn and never tire doesn’t switch off nor can you lower its volume when it becomes too real. Instead, it guides us to stop, to really listen and reflect.

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