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Men Presented by Sobers & Godley at Peridance

November 24, 2012

MADboots Dance Co. in “The Fakers”. Photo by Samantha L Siegel

If you missed Men presented by Sobers & Godley at Peridance you missed one of the most exciting showcase of young talent, young male talent this year. Men was an evening of choreography by male choreographers and performed by men.

First seen was Aaron McGloin’s Ruination performed by Mr. McGloin. This is the way a program should be opened. The music is by Telegraph Melts, a blend of electric guitars and stringed instruments.  Mr. McGloin is seen standing on the edge of a pool of light, his back to the audience with his arms raised over his head as if in surrender. Slowly he lowers his arms, then turns and began to make small intricate movements with his arms that would then expand to larger movement with his whole body. With his long limbs he creates shapes in space that are both angular and linear, juxtaposing and blending them into one harmonious flow of movement. There are pauses after intense moments of action which seemed reflective, an introspection of self. Mr. McGloin is an amazing talent and someone to watch. I look forward to seeing more work by him.

Jason Rodriquez in James Atkinson’s “Push”. Photo by Samantha L. Siegel

Push, performed by Jason Rodriquez and choreographed by James Atkinson was a strong percussive work. Mr. Rodriquez looked dazzling in a skimpy costume of red and black. He is a technically gifted dancer with a long lean line, but during this piece Mr. Rodriquez focused too much on technique, the creating of an exquisite line and less on performance. The work has tribal earthiness that needs to be felt by the dancer to truly come across. Mr. Rodriquez has all the attributes and abilities of a truly gifted dancer but he needs to trust more in his training and technique so that when he is on stage he can surrender himself fully to performing.

MADboots Dance Co. in “The Fakers”. Photo by Samantha L. Siegel

MADboots Dance Company is the brain child of Jonathan Campbell and Austin Diaz who are also the choreographers. They presented The Fakers which was a little vaudeville, a little twisted ballet, some gender-bending and a lot of sarcasm all the while commenting on the seriousness of contemporary dance.

It is a very athletic work for four men, Mr. Campbell, Mr. Diaz, Stanton Jacinto and Maxwell Perkins. The men perform in skimpy black briefs and cutoff white tee-shirts to the music of various artists from classical to rock. The dancers sometimes seem like store-front window dummies with blank expressions and perfect body placement. All very serious till they start to move in a tongue in cheek manner. At one point Mr. Diaz is lifted upside-down, carried to a spot on the stage and unceremoniously left there. The work is very athletic, for all the nonsensical antics on the stage, leaps consist of turns with outstretched legs and then rapid runs around the stage. They jump some then lie on the floor then get up and jump some more. The work ends when Mr. Diaz stops looks at the audience and gives us the finger.

MADboots Dance Company explores dance like Louis and Clark, nothing is too obscure to investigate nor too large to try. Jonathan Campbell and Austin Diaz dissect, deconstruct and reconstruct movement that is fresh and original; these two speak with the voice of today’s generation, a generation that has been continually exposed to stimuli from birth. They are fearless, unapologetic and in your face with a no-holds barred approach to dance, creating a bold artistic vision that is uniquely their own.

Matthew Flatley and Robert Vail in “First Thought Forgotten”. Photo by Samantha L Siegel

First Thought Forgotten was choreographed and performed by Matthew Flatley and Robert Vail to the music of Trent Raznor and Attica Ross. I am a big fan of Robert Vial’s; I have seen him in performance with Amanda Selwyn Dance and have always admired his dancing. A rectangle of light is seen and within is two bodies, knotted together in such a way that one cannot see where one ends and the other begins. Throughout the dance they come together blending their bodies in such a way as their body parts are almost interchangeable. The dance is very athletic with swift movements and contractions of the upper body. It is an emotional piece that one is drawn into, a perfect blend of music and movement.

Patrick Coker in Jeremy McQueen’s “What Lies Within”. Photo by Samantha L Siegel

What Lies Within (Excerpt) was choreographed by Jeremy McQueen, the 2013 Recipient of the Joffrey Ballet’s Choreographers of Color Award with music by Olafur Arnalds. This was an intensely emotional work, danced by Patrick Coker and Terrell Spence; both are undergraduate students in the Ailey School/Fordham University BFA in Dance. Mr. Coker is seen blindfolded wearing just briefs; he seems so vulnerable and alone. Mr. Spence comes on stage and attempts to help, to assist in guiding him out of the darkness, but every time one blindfold is removed another is found underneath. Each blindfold represents a fear or insecurity that hampers Mr. Coker and holds him back from his path in life. The dance is mix of male-bonding and individuality mixed with aggression caused by one’s inner fears. It is a work that is intense, well done and acute. The duet is an excerpt of the second section of a four section 20 minute ballet for seven men, slated for premiere in 2013.

Project 44 in Gierre Godley’s “Them Savages Be Brute”. Photo by Samantha L Siegel

Project 44 gave a preview of Gierre Godley’s Them Savages They Be Brute. Set to the music of Philip Glass, it is a work for seven men. We see four men emerge from the darkness of the back of the stage to stand before the audience. They move in unison and then as pairs as three men emerge from the darkness into the light to join them. There is a certain uniformity of structure, as the dancers break away and reappear in groupings that change throughout the work, four dancers engage in phrases of movement that are separate but still relatable to the movements being performed by the other three men on the stage. The work is multi-levered, one minute on the floor, then standing, then in the air, always with constant variations of shapes. As everyone exits the stage one dancer is dragged off by another, then there is total blackness. Casually all seven men walk on stage and begin to move as one, except for two that seem defiant in their mutual independence.

The shaping of body positions and the groupings of the dancers, the phrases of movements utilized, are all evidence that this is a work created by a male choreographer for men dancers. There is a masculine presence in the work that is neither overt nor obvious, just there.

Moments of stillness explode into moments of action, the body loose and pliant as motion is shaped in the air that becomes controlled and ordered when it comes in contact with the floor. One dancer will create a movement from gesture that is mirrored by the others. This is not often, but still a recurrent theme in the work.

The athleticism of the work is as natural as breath to the dancers, the mixture of movement and shapes flow through a natural arc of stillness and action, of unison and paired individuality. Mr. Godley creates movement that is instinctively intuitive, an organic flow of shapes, patterns and rhythms that are blended with musicality and emotion. With Them Savages They Be Brute he makes a statement of maturity and intelligence. The dancers Nile Baker, Dillon Honiker, Collin Heyward, Jaquez A. Sims, Zachary Denison, Michael Richman and Nik Owens must be mentioned and commended on their outstanding performances.

All Photos Courtesy of Samantha L. Siegel

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