"53 Movements" by Neville Dance Theatre
Neville Dance Theatre
June 1, 2019
On Saturday June 1, 2019 Neville Dance Theatre presented two performances of a 45-minute piece entitled "53 Movements" at Dixon Place, NYC. Inspired by Terry Riley's musical masterpiece "In C", choreographer and director Brenda Neville and her dancers had their work cut out for them from the first note.
Program notes (from composer Terry Riley) shared that "In C" consists of 53 short, numbered musical phrases, lasting from half a beat to 32 beats; each phrase may be repeated an arbitrary number of times. Each musician has control over which phrase they play; players are encouraged to play the phrases starting at different times, even if they are playing the same phrase.”
With clips of Riley's composition projected on a screen behind the dancers, and the dynamic recording of this piece by Bang On A Can All-Star's 2011 live performance pulsing along, the eight company dancers (Laura Dearman, John Raffles Durbin, Ally Sacks, Lauren Settembrino, Michelle Siegel, Natalie Stys, Amanda Summers, and Tanya Lynn Trombly) deftly embodied the music and brought the musical score itself to life.
With similar themes of Riley’s composition- layering, repetition, phrases overlapping and bouncing from one to the next- the dancers “riffed” off of each other, while moments later danced with such precision and unified rhythm that re-focused and re-centered the audience’s eye. The underlying pulse in Riley’s composition drove the piece along, equally matched by the strength of each company dancer, in solos, duets, rotating groups of three, then four, then eight, finally ending with one solo dancer spotlighted in the center, winding her movement down to stillness as the music itself faded. Neville brilliantly shaped the different sections of the ballet to sometimes match and other times offer counterpoint to the progression of the 53 compositional phrases projected on the screen.
With canons of movement, quirky gestures, geometric patterns, and solid proficiency of technique, the Neville Dance Theatre dancers did not disappoint. Sometimes more choreographed, sometimes with improvisational license (changing timing, repetition, spatial placement, and facings), “53 Movements” was a veritable feast for the eye, exactly what a night of dance should be. A collaboration of music and dance, choreographer and dancers, Neville Dance Theatre is a company you don’t want to miss.