December 2, 2004

Hannah Ramsey and Amber Hirsch from AKRNYM.
Photo by Tom Ruth.


Mulberry Street Theater, New York, NY

December 2–4, 2004

Reviewed by Jim Dowling


Mulberry Street Theater, home to the cross-cultural H.T. Chen and Dancers, sponsors performance opportunities for choreographers. While the Ear to the Ground series focuses on Asian-American artists, the semiannual newsteps series is open to all emerging choreographers. In five new works culled from 35 entries, the December edition celebrates a new generation of talented women.

At the start of Stack, by AKRNYM’s Hannah Ramsey and Amber Hirsch, the stout-limbed Ramsey literally steps on and over a sitting Katie Jackson. Driven by Orbital’s techno score of bass and piano-tinged synthesizers, the dancers’ arms and legs shoot out from milk-crate perches like a guttural language. They perform earthbound pommel-horse routines, Jackson’s quick pivots setting up a tension with Ramsey’s more deliberate timing.

Sari Nordman’s solo, Hunter, establishes her own timing as she sweeps an extended foot almost idly along the floor. Reaching an arm across the stage in a draping curve, she melts from the pose, then takes the shape once again. Even when a passage of industrial music draws lunges from her arms and torso, these develop like film running at a slow speed.

In her sentimental Good Old, Naoko Morita comments on the juxtaposition of childhood and looming responsibilities. Morita enters in a loose-fitting dress, hands forming an imaginary butterfly that lands on her shoulder. She entices the elegant Chia Yin Kao to join in jumping rope and hopscotch, and though Kao gently acquiesces, she barely seems to see her younger sister. When the resting Kao unfolds her long legs, Morita modestly holds her dress to cover her.

Liza Domnitz, in Nora Stephens’ Six Love Song Weeks, leads a rock show to the wail of The Screw. Kate Martel and Meghan McCoy back her kicks and extensions with a series of off-kilter lifts, then approach each other with high, aggressive kicks like dueling guitar heroes. The song finishes ambiguously with the pair ripping tape off each other’s T-shirts and jeans.

The affirming tones of Malian female vocalist Oumou Sangare allow Christal Brown to explore the solidarity of disparate personalities in her work Until Fruition. Kristin Taylor performs a solo of ever quicker, more powerful turns, finally throwing herself into the others’ arms. Afua Hall seems the most emotionally tricky, shifting her fingers in articulate expression, while Paloma McGregor projects a magisterial carriage through the sweep of her great limbs. After each solo, the dancers extend their hands toward the center of an unbroken circle.

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