Chamber Dance Project

December 6, 2007

Chamber Dance Project

Ailey Citigroup Theater, NYC

Dec 6–9, 2007

Reviewed by Susan Yung

Chamber Dance Project performed two premieres in its program titled “dare to feel,” plus three additional works and some vibrant musical numbers. The company, directed by Diane Coburn Bruning, has a huge asset in live music under the guiding violin of Christopher Collins Lee, a company founder and board member. He and three other musicians were situated onstage for the program, and even positioned with his back to the audience, Lee’s energy and enthusiasm were palpable.

    The quartet’s large role in an excerpt of Stand Nine (1999), choreographed by Adam Hougland, made them at least as prominent as the CDP dancers. The musicians sat mid-stage as four dancers instigated a dust-up by gradually removing the musicians’ chairs, music stands, and finally sheet music—a coy but good-natured slapstick romp. Victor Quijada’s I said no but you forgot (2004) also aimed for a humorous tone, but the girls-beating-up-boys theme fell flat in part because the movement was weak and unconvincing. Consume, a premiere by Matthew Prescott, paired cellist Andrey Tchekmazov with dancer Indre Vengris Rockefeller, whose solemn mood seemed to brighten and gain energy the closer she moved to him—a nice analogy for the company’s use of live music.

    Bruning choreographed Water (2006), a duet for Prescott and Laura Feig, who romanced one another in a small acrylic wading pool. The water added texture—the sound, the feelings evoked by splashing and dribbling—but after the barefoot Feig slipped once, the couple’s safety became a distraction. Dark parade, a new work by Bruning, read as a parable of war. Four women clustered, comforting one another. They reached downward and dropped suddenly to put an ear to the ground. A lone man crossed slowly upstage, silhouetted behind a scrim (recalling Paul Taylor’s Company B); he later wrapped himself around the ankles of a shocked woman to whom he was invisible. The women performed some bold phrases, ebbing in canon across the stage. This rare flow of energy magnified the irony of using pointe shoes, which evoke the heritage of ballet in addition to extending a dancer’s line. They are notoriously slippery and usually preclude any moves that require anything other than the direct placement of vertical weight. This factor seemed to limit choreography for the CDP women to unlyrical, choppy snippets based on piqués and relevés. It would be nice to see more dancing in soft shoes—it might unlock some treasures from these gifted dancers.