‘garment’ | Sidra Bell Dance New York at Baruch Performing Arts Center….
Stuck in a loop of repetitive movement, Mikey Morado moves like a go-go dancer in haze, his hands grip his hair, his hips swivel slowly, seductively as he steps forward and back. Austin Diaz and Jonathan Campbell are taking turns writing on a black board the word ratz in a style of graffiti reminiscent of that found on/in NYC subway cars circa 1980…and this is as the audience is entering the Baruch Performing Arts Center for the New York Premiere of Sidra Bell’s garment performed by her company, Sidra Bell Dance New York.
Alexandra Johnson stands in the seating area, watching the audience as they enter like some twisted but sexy secret service agent, black halter top, black coat and black sunglasses that makes seeing her eyes an impossibility. The sound track is a voice that informs us, as if it was not obvious enough ‘that I am a very stylish girl’…so begins the odyssey into the depths of Sidra Bell’s mind…her creative process and means of expression are uniquely her own… deconstruction is the means in which she composes colorful, surrealist mindscapes where interchangeable genders is the norm, where normality and the extreme are yo-yoed back and forth till you are no longer sure which is which.
Austin Diaz is a master at making awkward movement graceful, he scoots down like a frog then stands and elongates with great elegance. Both Ms. Johnson and Mr. Diaz use muscular isolation, minute movements in the body, as bold expressions where Mr. Campbell’s movements maintain a silky lyricism as he transitions smoothly from standing to the floor.
In previous works such ReVue (2011) or Stella (2012), Ms. Bell created canvases of movement that were bold and colorful, rampant drama flowed freely. But with garment, Ms. Bell has created a dance that is starker, more somber in tone. Patterns are simplified and repetition of statement is made by similar movements. Dancers move into a pool of white light for a quick solo then leave, it becomes a conveyer belt of dance. As one solo finishes, that dancer moves to the back of the line and then the dancer at the front of the line moves into the spotlight.
Conflict is explored but not in an overt manner. It is not so much as hostility as it is a sense of resentment. A ply of clothing (garments) as seen downstage right that is partial moved to upstage right, occasional thrown with force at another dancer as if in disgust or frustration.
Ms. Bell engages a looser style of movement, a more relaxed stance as to the use of the body in space. Where pervious works you saw deconstructed movement, especially the deconstruction of balletic steps, in garment there are at times a sense of the innocent, a sense of the inner-child play.
There is a hint of sarcasm, nothing overt, a look to the side, a quick hand gesture. Mr. Morado runs and stands in front of Rebecca Margolick and begins to twerk…Yes, I said twerk….but only briefly before he reaches back and tenderly caresses her face…
A distorted image of Mr. Diaz is projected behind him as he dances. The image is hazy, larger than life, a ghost appearing uninvited. Mr. Campbell is now wearing a short skirt and uncomfortable-looking black pumps; he begins to join Mr. Diaz in a duet, mirroring his movements.
Sidra Bell is at the forefront of defining American Modern dance in the 21st century. She creates work that mirror our daily lives…gives voice to a society that is obsessed with commercialism; where today’s youth, even though in constant communication with each other…never really talk…expresses a sense of the alienation, of isolation found in this era of global connectivity…