This week at Dance Theater Workshop features two new works by Andrea Miller and Sidra Bell. I love Dance Theater Workshop because it supports artists in doing anything and everything in an intimate setting. When I go to DTW I know there is the potential to see amazing, fresh things (on minimal budgets) that are unique to the space. Andrea Miller’s For Glenn Gould used the venue to its full capacity to produce an incredible impact on the audience. That being said, the dancers did things that only belong in DTW. In any other venue, the honesty found in the work would not be the same. For Glenn Gould is personal, powerful, and provocative, taking the audience on an intimate exploration of the performers’ emotions as they investigate and play in their bodies, surroundings, and art.
The piece opened to Bach’s Goldberg Variations with the dancers clothed only in underwear and dance belts . The play between ballet vocabulary and more unnatural movements combined with the classical piano and contrast of nude figures against the black wall set a captivating tone. Miller’s style constantly pushes physical limits and the emotions that arise from them. Different from the distortion of the body in ballet, the distortion of the dancers’ bodies looks dangerously grotesque. Yet, I find this equally beautiful to watch. The artists are exposing themselves entirely- both physically and emotionally. It’s suspenseful and truthful.
For Glenn Gould is ultimately a depiction of the unsettlement an artist faces in a messy, mixed-up transition phase. Each dancer has a moment to explore this for her/himself, in which their individuality is marked but not disengaged from the entirety of the piece. The transition section of the piece is awkward, obscure, and slightly disturbing. Afterwards, it comes to an honest resolution in which it is clear that something major has happened, but you are not sure what. All you know is it is completely different. Any order is gone and the sentiment is more lonely.
An interesting juxtaposition existed seeing Andrea Miller’s and Sidra Bell’s pieces together in that they had very different moods and qualities. Sidra Bell’s Pool did not quite live up to its provocative program notes, nor was it as well assembled as her work I’ve seen before. It felt unintentionally chaotic with an unclear direction. Pool fit the futuristic-black pleather-ecstacy trip-techno-rave-face paint trend that, frankly, I wish would end. While the lighting and use of special effects was striking, I felt all the extra elements detracted from the dancing. The dancers were strong and acrobatic, but despite their uninterrupted dedication, I did not feel a strong unity between them. The exception to this was the duets between two men- I could have watched their dynamics for the entire 41 minutes.
GALLIM DANCE/Sidra Bell Dance New York will be at DTW through Saturday.