Sweat, Modern Dance Series

DeBaun Auditorium, Stevens Institute, Hoboken, NJ
March 10 and 11, 2006

A Review

Friday night is Hoboken’s night out. One crawls down Washington Street, around countless double-parked cars from 14th St. to 5th, where one turns toward the River and to Stevens. I parked, as suggested by the young man who runs the box office, in a student lot on 6th Street behind DeBaun Auditorium. I was there just at 8:00, auditorium a quarter full, and waited the obligatory time until 8:10 when the audience had swelled to a scant half.

The first two offerings each centered on a hinted-at sexual encounter, in one of which a covey of ladies rallied around the offended one, but the other I hardly remember. Motion was standard modern dance stuff—arm and leg swinging, head tilting, and all those good things, performed with the centralization that the themes required. Then dance number three: I thought to myself this could really be a dance and then it was—good motion, well crafted, well danced, with an unique motion now and then. The choreographer, Leonides D. Arpon, has a good feel for motion and design and the dancers for living in the motion.


Then came Jody Oberfelder (Nikolais/Louis 1975–1978, Phyllis Lamhut Dance Company 1976–1978) with excerpts from her Lineage. I don’t know that I needed the program notes, which seem to be something deep about life. Jody’s motion vocabulary is acrobatic-based. Her interesting development of some familiar tumbling forms; her insertion of stylized mime; her extraordinary physical facility (as seen in her opening solo) and that of her company, Elise Knudson (Nik/Lou Lab 1995), Rebekah Morin, and Carlton Ward; the unobtrusive spoken text (which did not distract me from the motion as it usually does; I don’t know why, but that was a good thing); and the smooth, decentralized performance all leads to a real dance experience.

The next dance was a mystery. It was purported to be a quartet—a live duet dancing with a projected duet—but the projection was so poor that only occasionally did we see an out-of-focus image of what could have been a shoulder.

To end it all, a dance by Chris Ferris, the curator of the programs at DeBaun, was a romp—lots of dancers, lots of motion, kinda fun, with live, improvised music by a trombone, a trumpet, and a guitar.

All these goodies were followed by a discussion session wherein Ferris asked each choreographer in turn to explain himself. Then questions: one about the live music, a convoluted one about how one gets motion ideas, and my own: Why can’t the light batten on stage be raised or the teaser lowered or both, so the audience doesn’t have to suffer light in their eyes to see the stage? (Chris will look into that).

Ruth Grauert, March 11, 2006