March 2- 8, 2006
danceTuxes and Trance
Hubbard opened with two witty and slightly oddball works. Strokes Through the Tail, from Irish choreographer Marguerite Donlon, is a playful dance of five men wearing tuxedos but no shirts or shoes, dancing with one barefoot woman in a tentlike fluffy white skirtthat is until the men switched to the fluffy white skirts and the lady to a tuxedo. Clever, irreverent moves were set to grandiose Mozart. This quickly was followed by Float, a duet from Julian Barnett, who began as a breakdancer. Erin Derstine, wonderful here as she was in Strokes, was paired with Isaac Spencer. The two rolled on the floor to a percussive beat, engaged in what was half aggressive play, half a shoving match, ending with Spencer making an enigmatic pronouncement to the audience.
Then HSDC wheeled out the big gun: Ballett Frankfurt's William Forsythe, the German-based choreographer considered a true experimental giant. Forsythe's 1989 Enemy in the Figure isn't recent (unlike the rest of the program), although it's new to HSDC. It's unrelenting and without focus. Thom Willems' original score is harsh and unpleasant. The stage is bisected by an undulating wall. A light is moved around onstage creating shadows as the dancers leap over ropes, climb the wall and appear and disappear, executing choppy, confrontational moves. Depending on your mood, this is supreme abstract danceor as someone behind me said, totally meaningless. It screams its importance.
Clever HSCD saved Spanish genius Nacho Duato's mesmerizing Gnawa for last. Gnawa actually is a Moroccan blend of Sufi and West African shamanism which finds expression in trance dancing. Using Gnawa's evocative music, Duato juxtaposed the mood of an open-air bazaar with avant-garde dance, simultaneously entwining tribal movement with modern lunges and attitude. Gnawa concludes with astonishing beauty in a stylized line dance creating figures that seem to have stepped out of an ancient fresco.