Hunter College Dance Department Presents:

Barbara Mahler and Gerald Otte in
an Evening of New Dance Works

February 19, 20 and 21, 2009
Thomas Hunter Hall Studio Theater
68th & Lexington Ave., 6th Floor, New York City

Barbara Mahler’s work was first on the program. Barbara is a competent, sometimes interesting choreographer. Her moving images are clear, occasionally unique. When Barbara herself performs, it is like seeing a mechanical doll. She remains in herself and seems not to wish to send her message outward. The two dancers who worked with her, Cara Heerdt and Jessica Winograd, were warmer, better able to send to me the content of their motion. The narrative of the piece, Shorts, may well have been conceived in the early 1950s for it deals so strongly with the emotional, sexual images that many of the small works of that day dealt with. Mahler chose to bare the back wall of the studio, and the city’s lights poring through the windows provided a memorable shadow image, which I hope was purposeful. And the scream of Piaf’s voice (used as one of the accompaniments) really picked me up and set me down.

Gerald Otte, on the other hand, is a conventional contemporary in his composition. For this premier of Renewal (the third part of a full-evening work), he closed the back wall drape to create a contained space and used Benjamin Britten’s Diversion for Piano and Orchestra, Op.21 His company of young dancers are clear movers, and the soloists are compelling, pulling you in to their distinctly crafted motion. In his choral construct Gerald often chooses to pile figure on figure in waves, following the shape of the score. Of note: one truly largo section I find memorable in its growing sculptural design. Gerald directed the lighting for his piece, which defined each of the dance modes.