Deborah Hay Dance Company

January 26, 2006

(left to right): Photos by Paul H. Taylor, Tom Brazil, Michelle Boule,
Johan Elbers, Tim Mapp

Deborah Hay Dance Company
The Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, New York, NY

January 26–29, 2006

Reviewed by Lisa Kraus


In dance maverick Deborah Hay’s “O, O” five ace performers offered up their dancing in a way that was neither presentational nor detached. They formed a society in microcosm, its inhabitants displaying unwavering attention and deep curiosity. The whole felt inclusive, contemplative, and rejuvenating.

Before “O, O” began, the performers found stations on the space’s periphery. Jennifer Tipton’s light threw orbs and shadows. The performers stood nearly still, yet moved in a microscopic, fragmented way that brought them, almost imperceptibly, full circle. They invited the viewers’ gaze, returning it with dispassionate interest. Seated in the round, the audience waited in hushed, attention-expanding stillness.

The performers traveled through an odyssey of interactions. They danced a samba to the softly sung phrase “You are my only one.” During a spiraling conga line with feet tapping and hands flipping up or down, the dancers erupted in comical variations on the main riff. Mostly they seemed to be discovering how to move at all, with limbs and appendages turning at odd angles. Continuous dancing with conventional logic was hardly in evidence.

The performers, all celebrated New York dance artists, were quietly extraordinary. Jeanine Durning, with an impassive china-doll face, delivered dance non sequiturs with fleet nonchalance. Vicky Shick looked like a settled and elegant elder, ever slightly perplexed. Neil Greenberg had flashes of extreme, giddy virtuosity, especially when his legs twizzled rapid-fire beneath his bemused choirboy visage. Juliette Mapp’s movement ferocity drew her taught like a bowstring. And Miguel Gutierrez seemed always about to happen on the world’s best surprise.

Their world cohered through a kind of circular gravity. They spoke brief utterances—“We fell into a hole,” and in unrecognizable tongues. Gutierrez responded to a mysterious cataclysm with an air-piercing song. Others lip-synched his sounds in a protective huddle. Mapp cried out, condemning an unseen other, like a bereaved wife or mother. Finally the light faded with such slowness that we rested in the space of dusk becoming night, audience and performers hovering together in an in-between, sensitized space. See