Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Ailey Ascending; Photo by Serena SY Hsu
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Ailey Ascending; Photo by Serena SY Hsu

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IMPRESSIONS: Garnet Henderson and Anna Peretz Rogovoy in a Shared Evening at The Flea Theater

IMPRESSIONS: Garnet Henderson and Anna Peretz Rogovoy in a Shared Evening at The Flea Theater
Cecly Placenti

By Cecly Placenti
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Published on January 6, 2020
Garnet Henderson's "Our"; Photo by Yi-Chun Wu

December 13, 2019

Choreography: Garnet Henderson, Anna Peretz Rogovoy

Dancers: Rebecca Hadley, Pareena Lim, Michael Parmelee, Garnet Henderson, Anna Peretz Rogovoy


In split bill performances, contrasting yet complementary choreographic styles are often expected. Not so in this shared evening between Garnet Henderson and Anna Peretz Rogovoy. The two have an aesthetic rooted in the Merce Cunningham tradition. Linear and grounded, movements rotate around a strong center and change directions swiftly. Presenting one piece each, Henderson and Rogovoy create abstract paintings in motion.

Henderson’s Our, a world premiere, alludes to a blossoming friendship. She and Rebecca Hadley face each other before dropping into deep lunges. Performed in silence, Our draws attention to the sculptural quality and easy casualness that characterize both women’s movement. We hear the dancers breathe as they leap in cadence or push against each other, which creates an internal rhythm that guides their partnership.

Two women in pink velour jumpsuits hold each other's necks
Garnet Henderson's Our; Photo by Yi-Chun Wu

Whether in unison or not, their relationship is one of harmony and symbiosis. Henderson and Hadley mirror one another, sometimes performing for each other while, other times, doing their own thing as they grant the other a non-competitive space in which to move. Hadley circles her upper spine as she turns before straightening into a sudden, perfectly balanced battement. Henderson’s long torso curves generously as she leaps and changes direction on a dime. Although beautifully danced, the evolution of their relationship is unclear. Once established, their association stagnates and continues with no clear arc, the silence stretching on for far too long.

Four dancers extend their legs to the side, their arms in low third position
Anna Peretz Rogovoy's Major Crater; Photo by Yi-Chun Wu

The four dancers in Rogovoy’s Major Crater, also a premiere, perform with a similar internal rhythm. This results more from the piece’s timing rather than the minimalistic soundscape. Pareena Lim, Michael Parmelee, Hadley, and Rogovoy relate to each other but rarely perform in unison. Instead, similar movements happen at the same time to produce a kaleidoscopic effect.

With choreography for movement purists, Major Crater unfolds as moving architecture, sculptural and strong, the dancers’ facial expressions remaining gentle and un-emotive. Rogovoy’s work hearkens to a classical modern dance aesthetic with little flow or rebound. It emphasizes execution over emotion, thus presenting a blank canvas for the audience to interpret.

One woman tips her body forward into an arabesque
Anna Peretz Rogovoy's Major Crater; Photo by Yi-Chun Wu

From a technical standpoint, the choreography spotlights the skill it takes to maintain one’s center while performing complex upper body shapes with contrasting foot patterns. Rogovoy’s solo, full of energetic jumps and crisp turns, is highlighted by an impeccably balanced attitude pitch that resolves in a seamless pirouette. Hadley contrasts with a slow adagio full of off-balance rotations. Everything — the dancers, the piece, and the shared bill — is in balance.


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