BWW Review: ALWIN NIKOLAIS CELEBRATION Honors the Multi-Media Dance Pioneer

BWW Review: ALWIN NIKOLAIS CELEBRATION Honors the Multi-Media Dance Pioneer

Photo Credit (both images): Brent Herridge

The Joyce Theater was pleasantly full for a Tuesday night performance on February 9th 2016. I was eager to see to this company perform its classic repertoire. As the curtain opened to The Crucible, I was immediately brought back to the early '80s. Forms of early era video game choreography were demonstrated by the use of the dancers' hands. Its music was a mixture rainforest-electronic droplets. The company's bodies were the instruments to create puppet-like shapes with a platform mirror, which created a floating aspect. I must say, I don't know how the dancers counted the music for their succinct movements. However, the key to this wild and still innovative production was the lighting. Originally, The Crucible, was commissioned and premiered at the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina in June of 1985. After over thirty-years since its inception, the audience members, myself included, were astounded by the whole picture of Mr. Nikolais' vision.

A modern day Swan Lake-like Act II ribbon dance, the piece of Tensile Involvement connected the dancers with bands. This was not the fanciful ribbon dance going around an invisible maypole. Rather, the dancers had to remember such intricate threading that it was precision personified. Two male dancers were featured dancing in between and outside the weaving band, whereas the weavers were the workers. Even though I highly enjoyed the unique configurations, the band-weaving dancers seemed more like props. The audience appeared enthralled by the fact that although the dancers were connected by a web, they were not caught in it.

The Mechanical Organ, this evening's third piece, had two distinct segments that showcased the strongest parts within it. In the Two Together dance, Bradley Beakes and Bashaun Williams kept my attention within their duo. From body balancing to graceful partnering, I clearly was able to see that they connected and trusted each other. It evoked a beautiful scene of artistic cohesion. The other significant segment was called the Men's Quintet. An erotic and playful act that allowed each of the five male dancers to seduce the audience. They pulsated, pumped, gyrated, and slithered with intense choreographic movements without being vulgar. If only Pop Stars were capable of projecting their seduction message as these men did.

The final piece of the evening was Gallery. I was taken to an electric-sounding underworld of eerie and mystical sights and sounds. Each of the eight sections continually built upon the mime, as well as synchronized rhythms. I haven't come across a repertoire as unusual as the Alwin Nikolais company. Moreover, this last piece signified a diversity of costume, lights, and a visual perception like a world out of a Tim Burton movie. I wonder who was inspired by whom, since this Gallery pre-dates that movie maker's creations.

The next time I am able to attend an Alwin Nikolais Celebration, I hope that those who are familiar with the founder will create new and inspired works. Although, Mr. Nikolais is not with us anymore, perhaps his spirit will come through a new generation of this company's visionaries.

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From This Author Marsha Volgyi

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