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IMPRESSIONS: More Fish Dance Company in “The Moment" at the New York Center for Creativity and Dance

IMPRESSIONS: More Fish Dance Company in “The Moment" at the New York Center for Creativity and Dance
Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram

By Christine Jowers/Follow @cmmjowers on Instagram
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Published on May 11, 2024
More Fish. Photo: Alexander Sargent

Dance Artists: Doron Perk, Nicole Leung, Tori Mazzanoe, Iren Kamyshev, Alexander Anderson and Nikki Theroux

DJ: Dimitri Mart

Venue: The Joyce Theater’s New York Center for Creativity and Dance
Date: April 21, 2024

All of us familiar with dance are aware that dancers possess, among many gifts, a heightened kinesthetic sense, intelligence, sensitivity, imagination, and athleticism. We cite these qualities when discussing their roles in impressive passages of choreography. More often than not however, we speak of the choreographers’ work and what they are communicating through their interpreters.

Even if the dancers are credited and thanked for their contributions to a piece, it’s difficult for an outsider to determine just what parts in particular they’ve added.

Waiting in the basketball court for the program to begin, dancers chat and DJ preps. Photo: Christine Jowers

This is why in the middle of a gorgeous NYC spring afternoon I was thrilled to be indoors seated on one of the hard, metal folding chairs placed around the chipped-yellow-walled basketball court of a former Boys Club (actually, the New York Center for Creativity and Dance, a marvelous space for making art which opened in 2023).

More Fish Dance Company (aka More Fish) was performing the first iteration of their latest, fully-improvised work The Moment there. With no choreographer as leader, the dancers make all the creative decisions, moving on the fly to a score (set of guidelines) that we know nothing about.

More Fish in The Moment. Photo: Alexander Sargent

More Fish has been working together since 2022 when Doron Perk, a former dancer with Madrid’s Compañía Nacional de Danza, Tel Aviv’s Batsheva Ensemble, and NYC’s Zvi Gotheiner's ZviDance, decided he wanted to create a group with the mission “to dismantle hierarchy-based methods of creating dance.” (And, by the way, what a great name for a company. Thinking of dancers as moving together as a school of fish makes me smile.)

After some milling about, with the cast casually chatting up members of the audience (there are regulars here; one gal has known Perk since high school), Iren Kamyshev takes to the court, embarking on a slow juicy solo with elongated shifts of weight. She appears soft and malleable, meditative, connected to an inner force which impels her to move. Soon she’s joined by Perk who studies her form scientifically, like a professor. As he drinks her in, he decides to catch one of her gestures in his own body. More bodies join the couple, catching and keeping one another’s actions, choosing which gestures stay the same or mutate, changing directions, traveling.

Iren Kamyshev (far left) with fellow dancers of More Fish in The Moment. Photo: Alexander Sargent

For us, it’s like watching an exhilarating pick-up sports game without winners or losers. It’s fun to guess what the score might be. We anticipate, we notice patterns arise, how similar shapes register on different bodies. We hear breathing, feel emotions. Knowing that all the dance occurring here is happening right now for the  first time sharpens our observations and investment.

Nicole Leung and  Doron Perk of More Fish in The Moment. Photo: Alexander Sargent

There are twists and turns and changes of atmosphere throughout the event. At one point talking is allowed—laughter too. The group partners up.  One mover teaches another a phrase. We see the “students” take the phrase and give it their own spin, traveling horizontally, vertically, backwards, experimenting with taking it to the floor, to the air, speeding up, ultimately teaching it to another dancer. Soon the floor is awash in phrases, a delightful mash-up.  Which is which? Whose is whose? In another moment, the entire cast, save one, sits completely still with their backs pasted to the wall as their mate initiates a dance from her neck and shoulders that vibrates shock waves. The contrasting stillness speaks volumes.

(L - R) Doron Perk, Alexander Anderson, Nicole Leung, Iren Kamyshev, Tori Mazzacone, Nikki Theroux  in The Moment. Photo: Alexander Sargent

People transform. Perk, wearing very loose, long gym shorts, a gray-collared top, glasses, and a warm smile, comes across as a young affable student, but when he shifts from standing to a deep plié, we notice his length and power, how much space his body devours, and how his thin frame is anything but slight. He makes the sharp angles of his body somehow seem like liquid melting unusually towards the floor. Afterwards simply rising up to to the balls of his feet seems at once miraculous, yet completely natural.

Nicole Leung and  Doron Perk of More Fish in The Moment. Photo: Alexander Sargent

By the end of the exhilarating afternoon, we’ve come to realize (if we didn’t know already) that dance improvisations are far from random noodlings of the body. Creating a score, playing with it, listening, responding, watching, moving deliberately with purpose, with curiosity, and being open to change, are just a few of the skills that great improvisers must hone. (Would that we all took more time to practice them.) More Fish Dance Company is remarkably adept at creating spontaneous and intriguing worlds.  I hear, fortunately for us, that  the group is hoping to expand The Moment by inviting in more improvisers and performing (site-specifically) for larger audiences.  Do keep on the look out,  this school of remarkable dancers and all their activities should be on your radar.

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