New Now Wow
Not that the show is badâfar from it. The collection of three contemporary works by guest choreographers creates memorable moments and showcases considerable skill. But the show in general lacks the polish and drive that are both well within the companyâs reach.
The nadir, fortunately or not, comes early with Loni Landonâs piece The Practice of Being Alone. Never mind that the examination promised in the title is indecipherable from the actual movementâit looks more like an exorcism than anythingâbut the piece is dull, slow and lacks direction. Backed by a score heavy on low humming cello, the dancers assemble and reassemble in small groups. A repeating tableau has two dancers seemingly holding a third back while yet another reaches toward the group like heâs trying to conjure a spirit (or maybe Vader them). Sometimes a dancer is left standing, doing nothing, before he turns and exits. At the pieceâs end, my friend, an avid dance viewer, leaned over and whispered that the show should have been called âNew Now Blah.â
The show picks up with the next piece, though, Danielle Agamiâs This Time Tomorrow. Agami, a former member of Israelâs Batsheva Dance Company, is a practitioner of the Gaga technique (she started Gaga USA in New York), which entails disconnecting the mind from the body in order to create an organic movement thatâs often wiggly and silly. Expectedly, This Time Tomorrow is a delightfully absurd piece. Viktor Usov slithers on his belly from stage right, using only his chin and hips to drag himself. Then more dancers start sliding on their backs from stage left. Out of nowhere, an orange rolls across the stage. The scene eventually devolves into a sort of insane asylum. The dancers, all wearing khaki, are apparently doing their own thing. Patrick Kilbane looks like heâs doing a tango with himself. Samantha Campbell crawls onstage carrying an orange in her mouth (the stage is covered with oranges by this point). Elijah Labay then tries to keep her from wandering off the stage into the audience. The song, the perky "Wondering" by Puerto Muerto, helps the loony-bin lobby feel.
The final piece, Malign Star by James Gregg, seems to have promiseâitâs the most energetic of the setâbut its execution is a little muddy. The dancers are dressed as sorts of Mad Max school children (theyâre supposed to be âa band of orphansâ) who dance in unison, with hip-hop flavor, to a thumping tribal track. Here and elsewhere in the show, the dancers struggle to stay in sync with each other. They all tend to move with slightly different timing, shapes and spatial consideration. If thatâs somehow intentional to fit a relaxed style, it doesnât work, as these segments are choreographed too tightly. In general, the movement has a lack of purpose. For example, the dancersâ feet are often neither modern, nor classicalâjust there.
The most notable exception is Ching Ching Wong, who dances with control and energy throughout. Usov, too, the companyâs newest member, is a great addition, often wearing a dramatic face that injects life into bland choreography. These dancers are talented and the show has real sparks of creativity, but the choreography and movement can be more ambitious. New Now Wow isnât wow, but it certainly has the potential to be.