Annabella Gonzalez Dance Theater

May 11, 2006

Annabella Gonzalez Dance Theater
Henry Street Settlement, Harry De Jur Playhouse/Abrons Arts Center, NYC

May 11–13, 2006

Reviewed by Emily Macel


Annabella Gonzalez describes her choreography as “Latin classicism,” an ambitious mix of European and American classical music with the Latino dance styles of tango, salsa, and merengue. Her company’s 30th-anniversary concert, “Treinta,” showcased the tricultural concoction. It’s not only the choreography and music that pull together countries and backgrounds; the dancers themselves are from Mexico, Guyana, Spain, and the United States. Yet the dances, aside from the first work, a tango, were not Latin but rather absurd and exaggerated characterizations of real life.


At times this contradiction of high-class music and mundane activities was humorous. In Joggernot (2005) the dancers-turned-runners stretched, warmed up, jogged, and collapsed to classical sonatas. Similarly, the world premiere Have Some, a playful duet between choreographer Johnny Martinez and Heather Panikkar, centered on sharing a water bottle. As a Handel concerto played, they wrapped their bodies around one another and used their feet and legs to pick up the bottle.


Two of Gonzalez’s older works showed a woman inside a frame and her discovery of a way out. In Aluminum Frame (1977) dancer Lucia Campoy, wearing a nearly nude leotard and sitting as if she were lounging in a bathtub, moved slowly and gracefully, extending limbs and swaying long locks with her back always to the audience. Gonzalez performed Window (1987), her movements stilted by awkward maneuvers to get out of the window, then out of her skirt.


The world premiere title work, Treinta, was bizarre and out of place, accompanied by Stefania de Kenessey’s sci-fi synthesized score (performed live by her, with a few percussion instruments and the barely audible singing of Velia Clavijo Calderón). The dancers wore dark unitards; Gonzalez joined them wearing her costume from the piece before, a silver corset over a long-sleeved white shirt—perfect for the Victorian theme of Window but an anachronism in Treinta. The dancing moved between slow motion, paused poses, and random lifts of the women. This forced finale could not stand up to the rest of the program’s humor and romanticism. See