By Walter Rutledge
A.I.M. (Abraham In Motion) presented their New York City season at the Joyce Theater Tuesday, October 15 through Sunday, October 20, 2019. The six- day, seven performance season offered five works, including three world premieres and one company premieres, by three choreographers. The concise, focused and extremely audience friendly program was a successful blend of both visceral and cerebral movement and imagery.
In Big Rings (2019 World Premiere) choreographer and company member Keerati Jinakunwiphat presented a cleanly crafted ensemble work for six dancers. Jinakunwiphat clearly understands the craft of choreography, approaching this work with strong compositional form and design. Extremely fluent in “Abraham”; she proficiently worked in Abraham’s vernacular and canon. The use of music from different genres and the well employed choreographic device of theme and development kept the work fast past and well defined. This was especially evident in the second movement of the work where she brought freshness to Camille Saint-Saens “chestnut” The Swan.
Show Pony (2018) presented performer Marcella Lewis and choreographer Abraham in a very favorable light. In true Abraham style the choreographer established a finite movement vocabulary; which he manipulated, variated and developed throughout. Shifting between pure and gesture driven movement (with a pleasant dash of personality) Abraham created a work that was dynamic, original and fun.
Clad in a metallic gold unitard Lewis danced with unmitigated aplomb; commanding the stage and at times relegated the audience to unwitting voyeurism. If the arms are the language of the dance, Abraham allowed her to speak in a clear choreographic voice. She gave new meaning to the phrase “the hostess with the mostest”; when retreating to a pool of clear light she smiled while offering salutations and greetings to the audience.
Trisha Brown’s Solo Olos (1976 company premiere) epitomizes the phase God mic. The work for five dancers and initially performed in silence took an unexpected twist when dancer Donovan Reed jumped off the stage and sat on the first row with a wireless microphone. The almost Deis Machine devise became an omnipresent dictate guiding the dancers through the movement, which consisted of reversing many of the movement passages. This thinking man’s (excuse me- thinking person’s) abstract ballet lived up to it’s title.
Cocoon (2019 World Premiere), a solo choreographed and performed by Kyle Abraham, opened with a chorus of singers placed in the audience in front of the stage. Performing music by Bjork (arranged by lead singer Nicholas Ryan Gant) the nine- member chorus accompanied Abraham; who began in a crouched position on the floor in a circle of Azurite blue light. As if on a slow- moving carousel Abraham unfolded his body shifting position as Dan Scully’s light design expanded to eventually encompass the entire stage.
The choreography shifted between explosive passages to exploring the plastique of movement through sustained stillness. Abraham removed the sash that sequestered his shirt, and an offstage gust of wind surrounded him. Symbolically his motionless form was being propelled to a new metaphysical plain- a metamorphosis.
The evening concluded with Studies On A Farewell (2019 world premiere) an episodic ensemble work for eight dancers and choreographed by Abraham in collaboration with A.I.M. Set to Four Studies by Nico Muhly and performed live by Katherine Liccardo and Chelsea Starbuck Smith in tandem with a recorded track. The work depicted a series of encounters and partings tinged with a collective personal, almost autobiographic feeling. Jinakunwiphat slowly walking backward alone retreating upstage into the darkness culminating theballet and the evening.
Abraham continues to share his unique gift of abstract storytelling. The sophisticated and aesthetically satisfying A.I.M. New York season combined solid choreography with high production value.
In Photo: 2) Tamisha Guy, Marcella Lewis, Javon Jones, and Catherine Ellis Kirk 3) Marcella Lewis 4) Catherine Ellis Kirk 5) Kyle Abraham 6) Tamisha Guy and Javon Jones
Photo by: 1) Tatiana Wills 2) Sharen Bradford 3) Christopher Duggan 4, 5 & 6) Stephen Schreiber