Nancy Meehan Dance Company

March 22, 2002

Nancy Meehan Dance Company

St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery
New York, New York

March 22?24, 2002

Reviewed by Lynn Garafola

Nancy Meehan marked her company’s thirty-first New York season with a concert at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery. A sanctuary in every sense of the word, it was an apt setting for Meehan’s choreography, with its great pools of stillness and slow, contemplative movement, and for Eleanor Hovda’s subtly atmospheric sound scores.

Of the two works on this program, the new 12 Feet on a Wooden Plane was richer and more varied in texture. Like Timings (2001), it was full of sculptural effects and slow-turning poses, friezes that unspooled, and shifting centers of action as, one after another, the dancers?Meg Batterson, Erin Crawley-Woods, JM Leary, Frances Rosario, Corinne Sarian, Kate Taylor?became the focus of the mind’s eye. This was a choreography of slow dissolves, of arabesques that turned into tilts, squats into table tops, of limbs that wrapped around the body from a lunge, of shapes stretched and reshaped by pairs of dancers manipulating a third. Much of the vocabulary is inspired by yoga, and the women gazed at each other from some inner place.

In both pieces, but especially in 12 Feet, Meehan interrupted the contemplative flow with great circles of runs and leaps across the floor. After the intermission, 12 Feet opened with all six of the company’s women rushing downstage on a diagonal, and sustained the kinetic excitement with riffs of falls and rolls, thumping footfalls, stamps, and the orchestrated rhythm of.

At one point the dancers did a kind of temps de flèche across the floor with their arms moving like birds in flight?an image all the more striking because of its rarity. And in another rare moment, a dancer gazed with tenderness and even a touch of eroticism at a neighbor as she lowered her foot to the floor.

There was much that puzzled. Why the prayer poses? Why the far-off gazes? The meditative inner focus? The cocoons of dancers hovering protectively around a semi-hidden figure? Is this ritual or is it art? Although well rehearsed, the dancers?some of whom are recent college graduates?were less than fully seasoned as performers. Perhaps a more professional group would have inspired Meehan to burrow more deeply into her material and transform its rituals into the more satisfying stuff of art.