IMPRESSIONS: Work Up 5.1 at Gibney with Hollis Bartlett & Nattie Trogdon, Proteo Media + Performance, and Catie Leasca
Creation and Performance: Hollis Bartlett & Nattie Trogdon
Choreography/Performance: Bree Breeden // Choreography/Direction: Kathleen Kelley
Audio/Visual Design: Proteo Media + Performance
The Main Event
Maker/Performer: Catie Leasca
Soundscore: Catie Leasca with Annie Lennox, Pink, Oh Wonder, DJ Snake/Lil Jon
Making it in New York, which may just mean making the rent, is no easy feat. The journey includes lucky breaks and hard knocks alike, but nothing matters more than opportunities: to succeed, to fail, or, most important of all, to try. Due to funding and presenting limitations, the journey for choreographers necessitates a specific arc. They must nurture an ethos that evolves from creating short festival-friendly pieces to evening-length ones.
Gibney’s Work Up provides an essential point in that journey — the chance to show a novella-length piece with other up-and-comers. The program also includes a space residency and professional development. 5.1, the first show in the fifth iteration of this series, features three works that range from minimalism to maximalism, from abstraction to hilarious, self-absorbed reality.
In Frozen Baby, Proteo Media + Performance fuses dance and technology to suggest a primordial landscape where evolution is destiny. Against a video of blurry drips and blobs by Kathleen Kelley, Bree Breeden oozes across the floor, her body a squiggle of impulses. This sculptural wriggling leads her to all fours and then to bipedal status where she balances briefly on one leg. Breeden maintains her luscious writhing throughout, but the concept, set to a droning soundscape, seems too thin to sustain interest over the time frame.
Hollis Bartlett and Nattie Trogdon test the limits of repetition during Transmuting. Opening with gestures reminiscent of Trisha Brown’s Accumulation, they segue into freewheeling lopes, the heel extending and striking with force (Bartlett is a member of Doug Varone and Dancers, which employs this motif extensively).
Usually in unison, occasionally in counterpoint, the duo arrives at predictable results with their experiment. Repetition breeds tedium and boredom. They find relief in hamstring-pulling kicks and wild vibrations to a score of heavy breathing and vocalizations. Save a nice walking sequence at the end with spurts of low leaps, Transmuting feels like an overlong compositional exercise — rigorous but not revelatory.
If Becky with the good hair were a downtown dance artist, she would make a piece like Catie Leasca’s The Main Event. Since her personal party takes place at Gibney, it’s an “all-inclusive, exclusive” fete where the invitations are shredded pieces of aluminum foil. “I made them myself,” Leasca says in a deadpan voice.
Part absurd grandstanding, part vulnerable over-sharing, The Main Event treats the fourth wall like a projection for the insecurities of Leasca's avatar. Joining the spotlight are audience members who hold a curtain of silver streamers aloft and lounge on the sidelines as Leasca dives through an athletic solo. Too soon, the party ends.