Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig in

Partners Who Touch, Partners Who Don’t Touch

Photo: still from video by Patrik Widrig

Pearson Widrig Dance Theater

Thalia Dance, Symphony Space, New York City
April 10–12, 2008

A Review

I gave up trying to get to sleep at 2:00 a.m. This evening’s concert just kept replaying in my head.

First, I am delighted that Sara Pearson has decided that she can both direct and dance. Her performance tonight was clear, clean, and crisp. As a matter of fact, so were the performances of Patrik Widrig, Tzvela Kassabova, and Matthew Rogers. They kept me wiggling in my seat, and it is the “muscle memory” of their dancing that is keeping me awake.

The program started with the redoing of the first duet, Partners Who Touch, Partners Who Don’t Touch (1988), that Sara and Patrik had choreographed and performed together. Interesting because it has the germ of the aesthetic that we see throughout the program—a frank disregard for convention, quick shifts from brash to tender, and a devotion to real moving.

Unmoored (Katrina, Katrina: Love Letters to New Orleans) (excerpt, New York premiere 2006) followed. With videos by Patik Widrig, text by New Orleans participants, and superb solos, it had the strange off-balance wandering and tensions that created an atmosphere of quiet rage, which culminated in a screaming motional climax.

Sayonara, Dear (work in progress) in two parts concluded the program. Part 1, accompanied by a moving, evolving pattern on the cyclorama, has a strangely distorted lyricism about it that I found compelling in its twists of mood. With its flavor and acquiescence of the East, it had a hint of autobiography. Part 2 was a monologue, written and spoken by Sara. Sitting a chair stage right, she patiently strung pieces of colored paper, one by one, on a clothesline and slowly reeled them across the stage, speaking frankly and quietly, of her mother’s last days while her Mother’s spirit (Patrik) moved behind the moving messages.

This whole evening was beautifully crafted and clearly built from motional concepts unique to each dance premise. I wish that everyone in the world could relish it as I have.

—Ruth Grauert, April 11, 2008