IMPRESSIONS OF: Ivy Baldwin's "Oxbow"
Venue: BAM Fisher Space
Choreography: Ivy Baldwin
Dancers: Anna Carapetyan, Luke Miller, Eleanor Smith, Ryan Tracy, and Katie Workum
Music and sound design: Justin Jones
Additional music by Ryan Tracy
Set design by Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen
Lighting design: Michael O'Connor
Costume design: Alice Ritter
Feeling shaky in the knees, but stoically maintaining a semblance of normality, no matter how unsteady? If so, Ivy Baldwin knows how you feel. The dancers of choreographer Baldwin gamely explore, without the timing constraints of rhythm or dynamics, internal combustion of a numbing kind.
Brooklyn based installation artists Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen created a marvelous, massive sculpture for Oxbow that resembles an uprooted tree covered by thick vines and darkened – one imagines - by perhaps volcanic ash or by a decay so active that the sculpture might just crumble at any moment. This sculpture and the introductory piano solo set an apocalyptic tone, whether a cataclysm just happened or seems inevitable in the near future remains unclear. Alice Ritter, also Brooklyn based, designed the simple costumes in black, white, and fire engine red, offering a defiant vibrancy to offset the limp energy of the choreography and gray landscape.
Brooklyn-based choreographer Baldwin celebrates her company’s 15th anniversary season with this BAM debut as the 2014 Harkness Foundation Artist in Residence at BAM Fisher. When she stepped out for a bow in a short gold, form fitting dress and stiletto shoes with a hint of wings at the ankle, her gamine spark was puzzling. What would a young choreographer with panache and an enviable long list of commissions and supporters find fascinating in enfeebled movement? Her description of this project offers few clues: “Oxbow explores the inexorable nature of the two forces that contain us all: space and time, geology and chronology.”
Much of the hour long piece was performed in silence, though the dancers often let their bare feet clunk the floor as they walked. When the dancers screamed, it struck a memory bell - a bow to sixties experimentation; but the scream was too anemic to be a respectful flashback. The rebellious choreographer Anna Sokolow would have muttered, “I don’t believe it for a second!”