Caitlin Corbett, Daniel McCusker, and Kelley Donovan

October 1, 2010

Caitlin Corbett Dance Company, Daniel McCusker Dance Projects, and Kelley Donovan & Dancers
The Institute of Contemporary Art,

Boston, MA

October 1–2, 2010

Reviewed by Iris Fanger

Members of Kelly Donovan & Dancers. Photo by Di Zhang, courtesy World Music/CRASHarts.

World Music/CRASHarts gave the gift of a shared concert to local choreographer-teachers Caitlin Corbett, Danny McCusker, and Kelley Donovan, who usually self-present their works. The program allowed each a half-hour for a premiere, plus time for several other pieces. Both McCusker, formerly with Lucinda Childs, and Donovan, who also works in New York, appeared with their dancers; Corbett relied on veteran troupe members who have etched her movement style into their collective muscle memory.


Despite their individual expertise, the choreographers have in common an affinity to post-Cunningham abstract dance. They use music by up-to-the-minute composers, or sound-scores of noise mixed with incoherent conversations, or no sound. The décor is minimalist, dependant on lighting for scenic effect.


Corbett opened the evening with a premiere, no obvious poetry, either, set to music by The Books. Four women enter into their own pools of light but soon fan into various duets, trios, and quartets. Corbett’s movement impulse leads from a hiked-up shoulder or a jutted-out hip to cascade up, down, and out from the body. The laid-back quality contrasts with an unceasing flow of energy. Her 2009 work, Quiet Line/Hiljainen Viiva, based on a half-year Fulbright fellowship in Finland, was anything but quiet, as her six dancers picked up on the lively allegro measures and syncopated jazz beats of Ann Steuernagel’s score. Corbett’s work has matured in beauty through its newfound delight in music. Her recent use of unison formations brings a knife-edge crispness to the stage patterns.


McCusker and Brian Crabtree appeared alongside six women in McCusker’s premiere, hidden noise, choreographed in collaboration with the performers. Crabtree generated the most noise by stamping on landing from a jump, accompanied by an occasional hand clap. McCusker’s interests in everyday locomotion, genderless movement, and unforeseen relationships arising among dancers are appealing for their unaffected surprises, like gestures repeated when least expected. His second work, a space-devouring solo, Indian Summer, was performed by Alyza Del Pan-Manley, a student of his at Tufts University.


Donovan delivered the most compelling performance in her premiere, Age of Unraveling. Her series of solos alternated with group sections, danced by nine other women. Parts of the often antic piece seemed unstructured, the choreographic passages ordered haphazardly. However, Donovan moved with precision and elegance, turning and bending in an aureole of lyrical loveliness.