By Walter Rutledge
Dancing the Single Life (part 2) concluded the choreographer’s showcase portion of the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center three-day New York season at the Actor’s Fund Arts Center, 160 Schermerhorn Street. For the second night five choreographers were presented each testing the boundaries of contemporary dance. It was an engaging terpsichorean event defined by cutting edge, innovative and provocative choreography.
Beautiful Madness by Ranardo-Domeico Grays a solo dance by three dancers; each revealed a different side of the same person. Shannon Maynor was a strong and dynamic heroine in the first section entitled Wounded Past. In contrast, Laura DeRubeis presented an introspective and vulnerable figure in Stolen Self. Armondo, the final section, performed by Grays offered a more textured view of the inner spirit.
Jamel Gaines’ Healing Energy!!! was a buoyant dance theatre work set to the music of pop/disco group Two Tons Of Fun. Gaines imbued the work with a natural unencumbered use of port de bras and an organic, nature flow. Malika Reid performed the expressive dance with great appeal. Reid interpreted the choreography with her entire body giving the work a life from within.
Ripen: Forbidden Truth by Leslie Parker broke new ground. The solo explored the influences of religion on sexuality, and her efforts to reclaim the divine goddess. The work elicited many taboos including autoeroticism to the point that if she had been Catholic she would surely have gone blind. As with most art Parker raised more questions than answers.
The yet untitled work by Nijawwon Matthews was both a proclamation of self and a declaration for the right to just be oneself. With a spoken word antagonist/alter ego and an operatic music score Matthews moved with cat like assuredness. Dancing with a technical athletic vigor that was captivating, his beguiling charisma and focus produced a pathos that endeared him to the audience.
Power bottom by William Isaac was an incendiary statement set to the ambient sounds of a gay gangbang. Jason Herbert performed the work; his sinuous body moved with conviction and controlled bravura. Isaac took us on a dark journey, which at times made the audience uncomfortable. He understands that beauty in not always pretty, and courageously augmented low almost crawling movements with long periods of sculptured stillness.
Tomorrow night all of the performers from the previous two days return for Improv Gone Wild. A structured improvisation set in three parts with audience participation. The performance begins at 7:30pm and advance tickets can be purchased on line at www.thelmahill.com. Tickets are $20/$15 (students and seniors) and can also be purchased at the door on the day of the performance. The box office opens at 6:45 pm.