Stella: a Series of Miniature Manifestos / Sidra Bell Dance New York
Stella: a Series of Miniature Manifestos, the latest brain child of Sidra Bell and Sidra Bell Dance New York, is billed as “an epitaph that deals with observations of the self, private space, nihilism, consumerism, existence, importance, participation, voyeurism, and egomania.”
There is no beginning to Stella, entering the theater you encounter a dark and foggy world of non-gender. Dancers contort into strange and awkward positions, each different and individualistic, then lower themselves to the floor and explore and caress their bodies. Erin Schultz’s costumes, tight fitting black and lace tunics for some and black vinyl shorts and tight flesh colored sleeveless tops and large black vinyl collars for others, plus the fact that all have short haircuts, one must look closely to determine male from female. It’s as if Ms. Bell is stating that too much emphasize is placed on gender.
The stage is a black box with a slightly industrial feel, there are four white cubes set in a large square. The dancers move, stepping and stomping across the stage, the disappear off stage only to majestically reappear. I am intrigue as to where the go, they move with such purpose and a set destination.
Touching the face is a reoccurring theme, exploring its contours and elasticity, seemingly a fascinating new discovery. There is a feeling of angst, something unresolved and not spoken. Dancers attempt to communicate but it’s as if they do not speak the same language of gestures and body language.
Suddenly all the dancers stop, assuming different shapes, as if sculptures. Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” comes to mind. For Stella reflects a state of mind rather than a reality. The language of movement ranges from fluidity to tight, percussive, and even jerky.
You will find an element of romanticism hidden within the layers of the work, mingled with haute couture and dramatic theatricality. There is a realness to the Stella, a pedestrianism that is current and vital, a anthropologic dissection of consumerism and our obsession with self.
Jonathon Campbell is commanding with the suppleness of his movements. Mikey Morado, wearing only black vinyl shorts and vinyl collar, seemed so venerable his movements possessing a fragility of tenderness mixed with daring found only in youth.
Stella establishes no front, the expression and action, as in the real world is everywhere, anywhere, anytime, seemingly unplanned and by happenstance. With the use of dancers not only on the stage, but found in pools of light in the balconies and backlight in the side doorways, it gives the work a 3-D effect.
It’s as if Sidra Bell is a grandchild of Pina Bausch, such is the evidence of German Expressionistic Tanztheater in the structure and composition of the dance, the elements of fears, human conflicts and its intended reference to reality.
A one point the dancers move like zombies in a group, then mimic throwing something in the air with sometimes catching and sometimes watching it fall to the floor. Laughing is parodied, with other dancers leaning and posing in the doorways. Then they come into the audience and closely exam people’s hands and faces, seeking their history or flaws it is unclear.
Austin Diaz, as if he has had enough removes his shoes to better express himself. His movements become loser and more free. He is left alone on stage and with swiping movements first large then small he covers the stage, running, turning and leaping. His expression is one of longing, of someone seeking. He is fascinating and his performance tugs on the heart strings.
Alexandra Johnson pulls the eye whenever she is on stage so exquisite is her movement quality and presence. In her solos she reaches and extends her leg effortlessly, no shape or movement beyond her grasp or capability.
Stella: a Series of Miniature Manifestos in not for everyone, you have to be open to new ideas and means of expression, to not judge. It is a non-linear work and reflects a state of mind rather than a reality. It is dark and probing, campy and sometimes sarcastic; it expresses that which cannot be expressed in words!
“DUEL (public vs private): A Performance Art Project”
2 weeks, 2 works with Sidra Bell Dance New York presented by Baruch Performing Arts Center (Nagelberg Theater)
East 25th Street (between Lexington & 3rd Avenues), NYC
Directed by: Sidra Bell;
Performers: Jonathan Campbell, Austin Diaz, Alexandra Johnson, Lavinia Anna Maria Vago;
Daniel Oliver, Leslie Hubilla, Rachel Patrice Fallon, Mikey Morado
Lighting Design: Amith Chandrashaker
Costume Design: Erin Schultz
Film: Sidra Bell & Dakota Scott
Set Design: Colin Fraker
Photography: Jubal Battisti
Creative Imaging: Mondo Morales
Filmography: Alex Popov
Graphic Design: Claudette Bell
Program A: “Stella”, a series of miniature manifestos
Thu, March 22, 2012 @ 8pm; Fri, March 23, 2012 @ 8pm; Sat, March 24, 2012 @ 8pm; Sun, March 25, 2012 @ 7pm;
Program B: “ReVue”
Thu, March 29, 2012 @ 8pm; Fri, March 30, 2012 @ 8pm; Sat, March 31, 2012 @ 8pm; Sun, April 1, 2012 @ 7pm
General Admission: $25; Students $10 (with proper ID); Two Students $15 (with proper ID); Dual Season Ticket (both works) $40