Donald Byrd Propels DTH Into a New Place

posted by Wendy Perron on Monday, Apr 15, 2013
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Ashley Murphy, with Samuel Wilson, in Byrd's Contested Space. Photo by Rachel Neville, Courtesy DTH.

Everybody wants DTH to regain its reputation as a Balanchine company that is versatile too. But I think they can become something more exciting than that. The last piece in Program B, Contested Space by Donald Byrd, laid bare a different kind of psychic space. Each dancer found a new, edgy self in a foreboding, roiling place. Da’Von Doane, lying on the floor, swiveled body parts you couldn’t name. A strong, rooted dancer, he looked completely different in these opening moves—almost reptilian. Alexandra Jacob’s hyperflexibility, deadpan expression, and brazen force as she twisted into and around Samuel Wilson, demanded attention. Each dancer kept their individuality throughout Byrd’s oddly awkward, harshly intimate duets. Sometimes a head seemed glued to a partner’s back, or an elbow got caught in the crook of a knee. Amon Tobin’s music clanged and swooshed and changed textures as the dancers shifted into each new section.

Bravo to Byrd for completely unsentimental, relentlessly inventive, continually engaging choreography! And Bravo to DTH’s dancers for fearlessly and fiercely confronting the challenge of Contested Space!