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“Sweet Daddy (Deluxe)” | Stephen Petronio Company at the Joyce Theater, March 8-13, 2016….

March 20, 2016
Stephen Petronio Company in “MiddleSexGorge” Pictured L-R: Davalois Fearon, Jaqlin Medlock, Joshua Tuason (in back), Nicholas Sciscione, Emily Stone. Photo: Yi-Chun Wu

Stephen Petronio Company in “MiddleSexGorge”
Pictured L-R: Davalois Fearon, Jaqlin Medlock, Joshua Tuason (in back), Nicholas Sciscione, Emily Stone. Photo: Yi-Chun Wu

The work of Stephen Petronio has always spoken to my soul. For me it is the intrinsic value of his work, the ways in which he portrays the human condition. He is one of those rare artists who has the ability to combine both the cerebral and the emotional aspects giving us a glimpse into that which has made him and that which continues to inspire him.

Big Daddy (Deluxe) is the perfect example of this. Having its world premiere earlier this month at the Joyce, Mr. Petronio presented a chronicle of sorts by using the combination of text, music and movement. The work is a recollection of memories of his father, Thomas Petronio, who passed away a few years ago.

Stephen Petronio Company in “Big Daddy (Deluxe)” Pictured L-R: Nicholas Sciscione, Stephen Petronio, Joshua Tuason. Photo: Yi-Chun Wu

Stephen Petronio Company in “Big Daddy (Deluxe)” Pictured L-R: Nicholas Sciscione, Stephen Petronio, Joshua Tuason. Photo: Yi-Chun Wu

Mr. Petronio does not approach the work in a maudlin or overly sentimental manner. But instead we are treated a portrait of his father. He dissects, inspects and explains his complex relationship that existed between them.

Mr. Petronio uses the music of Son Lux to generate an atmosphere of contemplation. With his dancers he created abstract imagery or shadowed memories that flows through and around his recitation of text.

The beauty of the work lies in its simplicity of statement, a statement of respect and admiration with a hint of longing. It was a touching and beautiful performance. I am richer for having experienced it.

Now, I have never been a big fan of Trisha Brown’s work, but after having seen her 1979 work Glacial Decoy , I question myself as to why. Glacial Decoy is part of Bloodlines, a project of Mr. Petronio  to honor and curate a lineage of American postmodern dance masters. Over a period of five years, the Company plans to bring works by Merce Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Anna Halprin, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, and others into its repertory.

Glacial Decoy is a work for five women featuring sets, costumes and visual direction by Robert Rauschenberg. There is a elegance to the work and the longer I watched it the more I was pulled in. If you get as chance to see this work you should.

MiddleSexGeorge (1990) was created in the midst of the aids crisis. The piece is set to a commissioned score by the British post-punk band Wire, with costumes designed by H. Petal. There was a sense of frustration mixed with anger in the work. There is also a depth that makes me want to see this again before I more fully write about it.

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