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BWW Review: DANCING AT THE EDGE: New Choreography + Music Create an Uptown and Downtown Edge Combined

BWW Review: DANCING AT THE EDGE: New Choreography + Music Create an Uptown and Downtown Edge Combined

Photo Credit: Photos by Koon Nguy, JCC Manhattan From the fifth dance The Lines on the Wall Tell Stories We Don't Know

On 76th street and Amsterdam Avenue, in proximity to Fairway, Zabar's, Steps on Broadway, and the Beacon Theatre, I attended a performance at the JCC Manhattan. A modern, large structure with a plethora of Jewish events and educational classes as well as a focus on the arts. The evening of Thursday, February18th 2016 featured a collaboration of JCC's The Lambert Center for the Arts + Ideas with students from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. At 7:30pm, the theater was bustling with support from family, friends, and patrons of the JCC.

Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen, Director of the Center for Jewish Living for this JCC performance, told us about the Jewish connection in the Talmud and Jewish literature, such as the creation story for the evening's Arts + Ideas showcase. Rabbi Cohen explained that, "boundaries are a creative force, a sense of safety." With her sentence, I could understand from a dancer's viewpoint that without boundaries or rules, the foundation for dance creativity could metamorphize into anarchy. She also included that each of the five pieces was the method by which song and dance might help tell the tale of their own boundaries.

Khora, choreography by Kyle Mullin and music by composer Gemma Peacocke, began with hearing the sounds of the sea. Throughout this piece, it was apparent that unseen forces guided the dancer's movements. When one performer was the focus, several others were behind or beside navigating that performer's choreography. At times, their bodies were going against each other, yet thereafter it opened the next section for them to go further into their dance. The boundaries were there and then they were disregarded. For me, these performers demonstrated that even though in life lines are drawn, other forces are controlling our boundaries. We just have to recognize and understand the bigger picture of our purpose. I clearly understood the message.

Following Khora, Bridget Struthers' Gone By dealt with the element of time. As the solo dancer and choreographer, her suitcase held the props that would intertwine her struggle and experience of this dilemma. The jingling coins within her deep pockets gave the piece a unique texture. While she performed intermittently from removing hourglasses from her suitcase, throwing books in a heated passion of frustration, and placing the flashlights around stage to illuminate the scene, it was a great idea that took away the time that could have been utilized for her physical performance. Ironic. However, for this future depiction, a video projected in the background of the items might serve to give more time to Ms. Struthers' dance.

Do Not Be Afraid, I See What You're Saying had a cast of twelve dancers including a combination of eight singers/musicians. The act was a display of helping your fellow man or woman through life. The human bridges were connected by partnering that led the way for another to break through. Costumes of muted gray, maroon, and off-white lent the atmosphere to the blending of people regardless of differences. It showed me that everyone feels and sees it, with "it" being life's ups and downs, at some point which creates a domino effect. That effect beautifully unfolded at the final stages of the piece-"we can also be challenged to remember the similarities we all share within our innate desires at human beings."

The duet of Minyan of One was one of words mixed with the dance. Dancers Danielle Abraham and Eiren Shuman were a sweet pair. Ms. Abraham's facial expressions were effervescent, especially the emotion which emanated from her eyes. The two at times were mirror images, whether counting or in gestures. After this short piece, the final performance was of The Lines on the Wall Tell Stories We Don't Know. This encompassed the most creative and integral of the evening. With the electronic music, military-type organizational movement, and the framing props of their arm-lengthened pipes, I thoroughly enjoyed the student-centeredness of it. The shapes that the nine dancers created are best explained through the note in the program this piece-"We as humans build walls for ourselves and rarely build in doors. These walls (the pipes) hold all of our days and all of our nights-an accumulation of pain and ecstasy; every scribbled letter and every self-portrait."

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From This Author Marsha Volgyi

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