Gotham Dance Festival—Summer Sampler Matinee

June 5, 2011

Gotham Dance Festival—Summer Sampler Matinee
The Joyce Theater, NYC

Performance reviewed: June 5, 2011


Faye Driscoll and Jesse Zaritt of Faye Driscoll Dance Group in
Not…Not (Part I). Photo by Christopher Duggan. Courtesy Gotham Dance

Not many young dance artists strike a veteran dance goer as having a truly original voice. But two of the three on this program did: Kyle Abraham and Faye Driscoll.

Abraham’s dancing is so riveting to watch that it presents a problem for him as a choreographer. In the opening solo of The Quiet Dance, he has a kind of concentration where his eyes and his body seem to go two different places. It’s like he’s telling a complex story that you want to follow. So when his four dancers enter the stage, it’s almost an annoyance. They do much the same movement, but they don’t have his galvanizing quality. Even when he is still, he’s more interesting to watch.  He has taught them well, and they can undulate the spine and do small explosive gestures as he does. But it’s not the same. His actions are coming from some oblique connection between what he’s thinking and what he’s doing. He finds the restlessness in restfulness. He’s hit upon a startlingly original way of dancing—but not yet of choreographing.

While Abraham is wonderfully elegant, Faye Driscoll is wonderfully blunt and awkward. Her duet Not…Not (Part I) has a subtitle that captures the perverse relationship between Jesse Zaritt and herself: “If you pretend you are drowning, I will pretend I am saving you.” She kneels in heroic pose while he grinds his pelvis. Or her head gets jammed in the crook of his elbow. Or he’s expressing pure I-gotta-have-it-now frenzy while she slowly, obliviously, twirls toward him. Together they magnify supremely awkward moments that most of us would like to forget. Their interactions are gloriously mismatched—like those dada drawings where you put one person’s head on top of another person’s torso. At the end, she throws on one costume accessory after another, giddy in her exhibitionism. Although her mugging to the audience undermines the boldness of her statement, her work is never less than fascinating to watch.

The third choreographer on this bill, Gregory Dolbashian, made better use of the full stage than the other two. However, although the dancing in Like the Eagle was strong and the partnering had a nice sense of pull, his voice did not come across as completely his own. In fact, the voices one hears are from a recording of people explaining “the creative process.” We hear about sources, paths, inspirations. It could have been a course in psychology. (The soundtrack was actually taken from a radio program.) In some cases the choreography seemed to illustrate the explanation rather than take off on its own.