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BWW Dance Review: AMANDA SELWYN DANCE THEATRE Debuts Second Year of FOOTPRINTS Modern Dance Festival

Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre premiered the second edition of its modern dance festival May 19, 2016 at the Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater on West 64th Street in Manhattan. Comprised of six distinct pieces from different choreographers, the night was a tribute to the creativity of movement and how it collectively inspires us all. But the way in which these pieces were curated left something to be desired. The flow felt disjointed; choreographic styles were often polarizing from one piece to the next, making the audience consider only what was directly in front of them without further context or the continuation of any theme.

Jin-Wen Yu's It is You, And You, And You kicked things off with a highly acrobatic pas de trois. Fearless flips and spirals dominated, as the trio played with the idea of constant connection and used every limb at their disposal. Christian Cherry's music, while exciting, didn't help to service the piece, distracting from the dancers' quiet pauses. While a palpable connection was felt between the group, small transitional movements needed to be executed more smoothly throughout. Dreaming into Being followed, choreographed and performed by Lillian Stamey. A dancer with lovely lines and a slender frame, Stamey moved with clear purpose, experimenting with new ways of distributing her weight and filling the space, supported seamlessly by Cocteau Twins' dreamy music.

The third dance of the night, Shaft Medley, was a stark contrast to everything before and after it; a glitzy competition-contemporary piece that relied heavily on embellished jazz hands and consecutive pirouettes. I longed for more flavor and nuance in the choreography, and unfortunately, it didn't come. Mook Dance Company's Evo followed; a serene piece executed by six promising dancers. Experimenting with repetition and syncopation, the group moved together like one collective unit, playing with a relational dynamic as they danced with undeniable poise and grace. Brooke Naylor was a true standout, a vision of clarity and ease.

After a brief intermission, Amalgamate Dance Company's Emergence took the stage. Strong technician Amelia Low led the group in what began as a powerful feminist discovery, exploring every corner of the stage with energetic leaps and sharp, directional changes that marked the piece's structure. Yet over time, partnering work went amiss and didn't deliver with the same intensity with which the piece began.

Last, but certainly not least, Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre executed a beautiful excerpt from their piece, Refuge. Set to sparkling crystalline music, with sound design by Joel Wilhelmi, the five dancers explored the realms of space and the limits placed upon them with the addition of silkscreen apparatuses. Each dancer explored every corner, high and low, to create a mosaic of awareness through movement that was, quite truly, breathtaking. Dynamic partner work followed, complete with spellbinding lifts and assisted spirals that took the piece into a different realm.

It was a joy watching this company perform together. I only wish they had taken the stage more frequently.

Photo Credit: Optik House

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