writers on dancing


Brute Beauty

Levydance 2005 East Coast Tour
Dance Place
Washington, DC, USA
Sunday, October 30, 2005

by George Jackson
copyright ©2005 by George Jackson

Four visions of hell and only one exit! Levydance's 2005 collection gives a view of existence that's grim but, by program's end, powerfully gripping. "Holding Pattern" starts where Sartre's play, "No Exit", did—with the difference that the dance's eternal triangle consists of two men and one woman. This is the most civilized of the four dances as the protagonists engage each other competitively and sensually through "conversation"  i.e., recognizable choreography. The movement is emotionally charged and often appears realistically passionate, yet dance is discernible under the smoldering surface and patterns emerge from the action. The next generation, the two women and two men of "The Second to Last Person on Earth", rely more on game playing, social dance and other organized forms of interaction than spontaneous engagement. Yet they too seem condemned to go on with each other forever. Both pieces stop without a true ending. Third is a vision of solitary confinement titled "if this small space". A man is trapped in a cube of light. His quivers become spasms, but when he is able to control his movements and begins to seek escape, there is no way to break out of the prison. The only way to exit is to stop moving. As his body becomes still, the light fades and his cell, his cube, dissolves into darkness. Is death the only exit from hell, and is that even possible? Probably not, because the last work, "Violent Momentum", again shows the eternally trapped. Another foursome, two males and two females, who attack each other, insanely and sexually. Alone, they are rigid or beset with tremors. All together, they experience orgiastic release but afterwards their anger and fear seemed about to build again.

From the start, when we first saw Levydance, its repertory has been prolific in terms of inventive movement. Now the dances also have a strong sense of form (despite there being only one true ending, that of the solo). In the last piece, there are remarkable swings of impetus, motion phrases that soared with Keeril Makan's music—if swinging and soaring are apt words for such violent behavior and strident sound. There was, though, a lyricism in the depiction of brutality. Is succumbing to its beauty perverse? Perhaps, yet the action is made to seem so inevitable and eternal that one can't wish it to stop.

Benjamin Levy choreographed the first piece and the last in collaboration with the cast—Christopher Hojin Lee, Scott Marlowe, Lauren Slater and (last piece only) Brooke Gessay. Levy is rehearsal director of the second piece, which Adriane Lee choreographed for the four above named dancers. The solo, which Levy danced himself, he co-choreographed with Rachel Lincoln. As a dance maker, Levy has outgrown the "promising" designation and established himself as a force. The dancers in the group works responded to each other intuitively, like members of a long established string quartet. Scott Marlowe, though, had a singular intensity when he was alone and an unique ability to surprise and convince with sudden motion.    

Volume 3, No. 41
November 7, 2005

copyright ©2005 George Jackson



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last updated on November 7, 2005