Dance Connection 2005

Clecode Theatre, Bergen Community College, Paramus, NJ, May 14, 2005

A Review

The Dance Connection is a group of professional artists who live in northern New Jersey. They periodically combine their latest works to present them to the public in performance, coordinated by Andy Chiang and Claire Porter. They are a diverse, creative group of dancers and always give an evening worth attending.

Coming Down the Mountain (Jamie Sporn) was accompanied beautifully by singers Kari Kaefer and Mia Schober-Ling. The dance itself (a duet by Jamie and Kathryn Tuman), acceptably conceived and constructed folk material and pantomime, was rather self-consciously performed, with a “look at me; I’m funny” attitude. I would rather have enjoyed it if it had been performed seriously.

Selkie (Susan Thomasson) is a solo in the modern idiom that I had seen and reviewed last fall. Susan has worked out most of the kinks, and it has grown into a beautiful and compelling work. She is a clear and gifted performer. The brief encounter between the Selkie and the fisherman (Irving Burton) could be expanded to fill out the work and, in so doing, bring this work to fulfillment.

Escapades (Lynn Needle) attempts a story line that escapes me. A trio (Lynn with Amy Fitzgerald and Karin Lipinsky) starts with a minute of silence that can’t determine if it is mime or motion, which is followed by a “dance,” the genre of which is equally unclear. Lynn then gives us a solo, which was followed by a duet with M.A. Taylor. From the accompaniment I deduced that this is in the Jazz idiom. On an intellectual plane there is nothing “wrong” with what they do. The dancers are well articulated and capable of great motion, but dance performance must move the viewer, and their contained manner doesn’t do it. Jazz reaches out and seduces the audience. Their performance does not.

Fund Raiser (Claire Porter):  Who can surpass Claire in recitative? Claire told me this piece was 20 years old. I believe it for, although the material is as fresh as tomorrow, each gesture, each nuance is honed to absolute performance perfection. ’Nuf said.

Censored (Liliana Amador and Alison Oakes) is another work that I have reviewed before. It opens with a procession that seems structureless and which ends on two chairs. On those chairs the work is visually stunning and motionally intriguing. The “story line” unfolds through seemingly difficult design—the dancers reaching for each other’s hand under a chair and stepping from one chair to the other. As a work of art, this story line seems unnecessary to me, but it is probably important to the choreographer’s initial premise.

Madreselva (Frances Rosario-Puleo) opened the program after intermission. The accompaniment was clear, good vocal improvisation (Marian Wasserman). The programmers seem to like to open with vocal sound. My only objection to that is that it doesn’t “fill the ears” as well as instrumental sound so as to transport the viewer from his pedestrian mode to the dance. The dance was well constructed in the modern mode of sturm und drang, the only example we were treated to on this program.

Touch Me (Irving Burton):  Whatever Irving (an octogenarian) does is a unique treat, even as he paces measured squares over and over around the stage. But whoever set the sound levels did Irving an injustice. I strained to hear his words above Peter Jones’s score. The simplicity of motion design, so fitting to the theme, is a signally fine conception. Kudos, Irving!

Unfolding (Nai-Ni Chen):  I wish something could bring to life the statement of the opening duets (more highly stylized walking, perhaps), because the moment the trio of women enters up stage left, the dance awakens and becomes fire. Within its well-constructed oriental framework the “contact improvisation” technique of this dance keeps the audience “hopping” and is a lively finale to a satisfactory evening of dance.

— Ruth Grauert, May 15,2005