AUDIENCE REVIEW: Wendy Osserman Dance Company presents "Laminaria"
Wendy Osserman Dance Company
October 21, 2022
It has been a pleasure to follow the choreography of Wendy Osserman through the years. Over time she has honed her vision and language to a personal expression that has timeless resonance. This was evident in her recent work at Theater for the New City, Laminaria, whose atmosphere addresses woman’s presence in the process of birth and renewal. Laminaria is the Latin word for kelp which is used medicinally to induce labor in people seeking abortion or childbirth.
The three sections, The Devil’s Apron, Water into Light and Lethe were choreographed in collaboration with the dancers in response to the titles, lyrics and music by composer/violinist/singer Concetta Abbate. The Concetta Ensemble included Skip La Plante, Music Director of Wendy Osserman Dance Company, who invents and creates a wide range of fanciful percussion instruments and microtonal scores.
Especially exciting was a new solo at the beginning of the program by Osserman with La Plante, “just sayin’/no words". The many dynamic contrasts evoked different aspects of the performer: the delighted, the struggling, the dreamy, the solemn.
Laminaria, choreographed for three women to music played live by ten musicians, is described by Abbate as “Folk horror, a sub-genre of horror.” She imagined “an underwater sea ghost, or shadow entity of sorts, consciousness trapped behind the shroud of grief.” Osserman split the image of the ghost into three, expanding movement ideas, spatial and sculptural. Cori Kresge, Emily Vetsch and Vanessa Walters moved in and out of nearly transparent fabric in sensuous and shaping motifs. Emily Vetsch performed an inspired solo in Water Into Light recalling a bird attempting flight. Cori Kresge, coming onto 20 years of working with Osserman, is again “extraordinary” (Siobhan Burke, the New York Times) as she conveys Osserman’s vision, melding her movement with Osserman’s to render it fully. Vanessa Walters in her first season with WODC adds her strong presence and intensity of focus to the piece, completing the circle. The feeling of ensemble is what one has come to expect of Osserman’s work. Accompanied by the Concetta Ensemble there existed a unity of spirit and matter.
I think that the work of Wendy Osserman recalls the great tradition of Modern Dance made by significant women artists over the years such as Helen Tamiris, Valerie Bettis and Frances Alenikoff with whom Osserman studied and performed.
— Nancy Zendora
Wendy Osserman performs Just sayin'/no words. Photo © Steven Pisano