Adam Miller Dance Project

June 9, 2005

Adam Miller Dance Project
Joyce Soho, New York, NY

June 9–12, 2005

Reviewed by Susan Yung


Choreographer Adam Miller, an alumnus of Pacific Northwest Ballet, is clearly a romantic at heart, creating a fantasy world filled with film noir characters. In June, this Hartford-based chamber company filled the Joyce Soho stage to overflowing.

Miller contributed the two big works on the program. Nobody Move, a premiere, sketched a story rife with spies, guns for hire, and philandering spouses. The women, on pointe, wore glamorous satin gowns or tailored 1940s suits; the men, trenchcoats or pinstripes. Unfortunately, these elaborate costumes and the pieced-together soundtrack seemed to take precedence over the choreography. The same applied to Miller’s Fabiola 47, which takes its ballroom theme from sampled and clipped Johann Strauss waltzes. Rather than rolling with this contagiously dance-y music, Miller seemed to work against it, blunting any fluidity in the phrasing. His handsome troupe, however picturesque, was not able to smoothly connect the numerous photo-op poses with the balky dance phrases.

Dancer James Graber contributed the program’s most successful work, Chimera, set against sunset hues. Two women and a man, all wearing skirts, moved clearly and crisply through allegro sequences and fouettés. Graber worked on a smaller scale more appropriate to an intimate venue and a chamber company, creating flowing choreography couched in simple but well-executed ballet steps to convey an innate, abstract beauty.

Graber, a strong and versatile presence, danced in everything but his own work. He played a humble ogre in Duet From Land’s Edge (choreographed by Pilobolus’ Robby Barnett, Alison Chase, and Jonathan Wolken), in which he fell for a sleeping beauty, Gianna Russillo. The ebullience of infatuation came across when he whisked her in vaulting orbits. The two paired as well in Stuart Loungway’s Chamber, a ballet with contemporary flair and salted with Euro accents such as flexed feet, legs pedaling through lifts, and arms limp from the elbows down. Sara Sweet Rabidoux’s A Minor Form of Despair provided a jazzier-toned, searing snapshot of a nuclear family. Although picture-perfect at first glance, each member grappled with individual torment.

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