A Shared Evening of New Works by Shelley Senter and David Thomson

Danspace Project: PLATFORM 2010: “Back to New York City”
131 East 10th Street, New York, NY

March 4–6, 2010

A Review

I have just seen a very good new dance. Shelley Senter's work, which she titles “grey matter (promiscuous material),” was the first offering on the program.  The dance is clean, clear, abstract motion from start to finish. It opens with narration and Shelley standing alone. For the three minutes of the narrative she moves her head once steadily from left to right.  The narrative is about her years away from New York City, and her action makes one feel the years passing.   Then sound and motion really start, a completely abstract statement wherein one feels the shaping through gesture, space through motion, time through pause. The meetings and leavings in the course of  solos, duets, trios, quartets, and finally a quintet were spaced and timed and shaped and assorted so that one's kinetic perception was constantly engaged in the structuring of the space of the playing area.  The sound score matched! What a great… was it twenty minutes??

All the dancers and musicians do need listing for they were all just exactly what I felt they should be.  Dancers with Shelley Senter were Rebecca Bryant, Kelley Dalrymple-Wass, Nina Martin, Margaret Paek, and Andrew Wass; and sound scores by Andrew Wass.

David Thomson with his 1959 had a hard act to follow.  I suppose I may have old-fashioned prejudices against such things as crotch holding. David dances vigorously and fluently, and I know that the crotch holding must pertain in some way to the date.  Perhaps this was explained by the  narration which I could not hear, so this offence to my ethic was never made clear. 

The Narrator (Sarena Kennedy) needed augmentation, but the microphone (which hung on her head, wrapped around her cheek, and ended in front of her mouth) was ineffective and made her look as if she had a birthmark.  (Microphoned speakers always annoy me anyway. I was taught public speaking when microphones were for radio announcers. People who spoke from the stage knew how to be heard to the back of the house without shouting.) Then there is the narrator's costume, a “Sunday-go-to-meeting” dress, which also makes reference to the date. This work, obviously thoughtfully conceived and constructed, is reminiscent of traditional 1950s modern dance that told tales of sturm und drang, in which such crotch holdings and Sunday dresses were common and familiar symbols.  When eventually the female dancer, Omagbitse Omagbemi, appears, Thomson lets go of his crotch and a respectable duet begins, still in the tradition of sturm and drang modernism. Both Thomson and Omagbemi are good dancers, and the duet had moments of real choreographic interest. And the audience seemed to appreciate this work more than I did. 

—Ruth Grauert, March 6, 2010