Purple Art

[April 10 2015]

Stephen Petronio Company “Bloodlines” at the Joyce Theater, New York

“Bloodlines” is the first performance of a new series by Stephen Petronio Company which will present works by seminal choreographers such as Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Anna Halprin, Yvonne Rainer, and Steve Paxton. For this debut Stephen Petronio paired his own composition “Locomotor/Non Locomotor” with Merce Cunningham’s “RainForest” – shown for the first time by a contemporary American company since the Cunningham Company. The dances complimented each other with an investigation of lateral movement and the range of motion of the human body, often augmented by couples’ leaps and weight exchanges.

“Locomotor/Non Locomotor” is broken into two parts, the first metaphorically lends itself to transit and paths travelled through public spaces. Dancers weave amongst each other in a fanfare of limbs, occasionally acknowledging each other but mostly groups stay on purposeful trajectories. It features eight dancers, Davalois Fearson, Gino Grenek, Barrington Hinds, Jaqlin Medlock, Nicholas Sciscione, Emily Stone, Joshua Tuason, and Melissa Toogood

The second section feels more intimate, four dancers explore circular motions while Clams Casino’s score resonates deep bass notes. There is attention to energy paths inherent in human biology and motion which folds upon itself instead of leading somewhere.

The first section of “Locomotor/Non Locomotor” references paths travelled by the body, the second section highlights motion within the body. “RainForest” goes a step further. The dancers are often static and parts of the choreography imbue them with animal or plant-like qualities. It seems that their egos dissolve into the natural world. The primordial desires for shelter, exploration, and compassion motivates them.

Warhol’s set installation “Silver Clouds” was licensed by The Andy Warhol Foundation and provided an ethereal environment for the dancers to move through. The helium-filled Mylar pillows hung effortlessly in the air, providing an uncanny balance between industrial and natural elements. Some of the pillows floated into the crowd and evoked a child-like giddiness from the audience.

In contrast with Warhol’s dreamy installation, flesh-colored leotards originally conceived by Jasper Johns enwrapped the dancers with a heavy sense of materiality. The garments were cut and torn as if memories had scared their bodies. David Tudor’s original score further realized these paradoxical themes with a spacey composition that mixed animal sounds with mechanical accents.

“Bloodlines” provides a beautiful homage to Cunningham’s work with an exacting performance of “RainForest”, while the dance itself seems to envision a far away place, it’s re-staging transports the audience into a previous generation. Alongside this, “Locomotor/Non Locomotor” presents an inherently modern vision, inspired by the past but progressing into the future. 

“Bloodlines” will run until April 12th at The Joyce Theater.

Text Elise Gallant and photo Yi-Chun Wu

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