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The 4 M’s | Monte/ Molissa/ Margo/ Muller – LIVE! At New York Live Arts, June 14-18, 2016….

July 24, 2016
Elisa Monte Dance’s Thomas Vavaro. Photo: Matthew Murph

Elisa Monte Dance’s Thomas Vavaro. Photo: Matthew Murph

In 2013 Jennifer Muller contacted New York Live Arts and then Elisa Monte about creating a shared program for established choreographers. This year the program presented works by Elisa Monte, Jennifer Muller, Margo Sappington and Molissa Fenley in Monte/Molissa/Margo/Mueller – LIVE! At New York Live Arts, June 14-18, 2016.

Opening the evening was the premiere of Elisa Monte’s Dextra Dei with music by Tibor Szemo and lighting by David Moodey. From the program notes…”Dextra Dei was started in 1989 in response to what was then the AIDS assault on my community of friends. It was a men’s quartet which premiered in Palais des Festivals et Congres, Cannes, France. I’ve decided to bring the work back into my repertoire, as well as premiere an additional new section adding four women to the work – Elisa Monte.”

Dextra Dei began with four men slowly rolling onto the stage from upstage right. It is not evident that it is four men, not at the very beginning, lights and shadows allow glimpse of a moving mass of anatomy.

The work is a powerful statement of the AID’s crisis so rampant in the 80’s and 90’s. The four men provide succor while giving strength and support to each other. When one jumps into the air he is caught and almost cradled/caressed before he stands and joins the others.

Four women join the men showing both their compassion and support. You see four strong women express a combination of grief and outrage of the losses they have endured. But eventually the women withdraw and the four men are left alone on the stage, still struggling, but still supporting and caring for one another.

Molissa Fenley and Company. Photo: (c) Shinichi Iova-Koga

Molissa Fenley and Company. Photo: (c) Shinichi Iova-Koga

The world premiere of Molissa Fenley’s The Third Coast (Parts 1 and 2 of the Water Table) was a duet performed by Christiana Axelsen and Rebecca Chaleff. Though the duet possessed a sense of purity, it still seemed to be missing a strength of statement. It was performed in two sections; both of which went on for a tad too long. The works are too similar in concept and construction to be seen back to back. It could have easily been just long one duet from start to finish. Now I am not saying I did not enjoy the piece….it just has a few kinks that need to be worked out is all…

Now I have to say that Molissa Fenley is Molissa Fenley for a reason and that reason is evident in her solo performance in the New York premier of Mali (Part 8 of Water Table). Ms. Fenley is able to capture and hold your attention in ways that many soloists lack. You witness her focus as she seamlessly blends her movement with both the music and lighting to create a visual statement of thought and expression. She moves her arms in pronounced angles while her body tilts forward or too the side all the while projecting a beautiful sense of serenity…It was a powerful performance and I am richer for having witnessed it….Thank you Ms. Fenley……..

Margo Sappington’s Jennie Somoygi & Charles Askegard. Photo: (c) Gene Schiavone

Margo Sappington’s Jennie Somoygi & Charles Askegard. Photo: (c) Gene Schiavone

Margo Sappington’s Entwined is set to the music of Eric Satie. The beginning I thought slow and did not truly hold my attention but as the piece progressed I found myself pulled in. I’ll be honest I am 50/50 on Ms. Sappington’s choreography. Of her works I have seen I find myself left with a feeling of either blasé or of being totally invested…for Entwined I was totally invested….

With Entwined, Ms. Sappington utilizes the classical vocabulary to create a stunning piece of contemporary ballet. The work had an inherent lyricism as well as musicality that many of Ms. Sappington’s pieces are known for….

Jennifer Muller presented the world premiere of Working Title…now I am unsure if Working Title is the just that… a title to be used during the construction of the work…

Working Title is a fast paced work “about the difficulty of defining relationships in today’s world.” The dancers move in a controlled frenzy…relationships between the dancers are fleeting but still pronounced.

Jennifer Muller/The Works’ Seiko Fujita & Elijah Laurant. Photo: (c) Carol Rosegg

Jennifer Muller/The Works’ Seiko Fujita & Elijah Laurant. Photo: (c) Carol Rosegg

The work grabs your attention right from the start and I’m not sure I even blinked while watching the performance. I must be honest… I have been watching Jennifer Muller’s work, on and off, since the 80’s… for whatever reason her pieces never seemed to grab me or speak to me…

But with both this year’s Working Title and last year’s Alchemy… let’s just say I am not sure what Ms. Muller has been up to the last few years….but whatever it is… please don’t stop. With both Working Title and Alchemy Ms. Muller has become the choreographer to watch.

The two pieces I have seen over the last two years both exhibited her “out-of-the-box-thinking” which she applies with innovated movement and a willingness to experiment with the body in space. All I can say is I can’t wait to see what see comes up with next year…..


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