writers on dancing


A Likeness

Joyce Soho
New York City
November 20, 2005

by Nancy Dalva
copyright ©2005 by Nancy Dalva

Collaboration, co-operation, intuitive responsiveness, a modest and direct presentation of the self—these are but some of the personal virtues espoused by Terry Creach in his work. The dance values all have to do with the basics, those blessed basics: as the choreographers states it, "weight, strength, timing and momentum unique to the moving male body." Indeed, Creach/Company began as the all-guy company called Creach/Koester, in 1983, when it was easy to ascribe social motivation to the work.  But while it has remained  a company of all men, the intrinsic politics of that format seem incidental, at this point, to the aesthetics. In other words, Creach/Company is, and Creach himself probably always was, about the movement.
His metier crosses the inspired noodling around of contact improvisation and the skilled elaborations of release technique, with whatever arises in the collaborative work process subject to Creach's pristine editing. (This is so tight that the video on the back wall seems to be real time projection of dancing as it occurs, and not pre-taped.)  The work retains a directness, and an expressiveness unique to the personality of each performer, but the production is pristine and restrained, with values very well suited to the white box space that is the Joyce Soho.
 On this program of five brief dances (the whole ran just under an hour), the lighting designer Garin Marshall cast skillful shadows on the side walls enhancing Sue Reese's videography for the opening and closing pieces. Jane Shaw devised the sound, and Gabriel Berry the costumes, which, as usual with Creach, are clothes. The kinds of things people would wear on the street, or around the house. Everything seemed simple—the fall and recovery of the dancers, the clear stage filled with light and shadow and video of the actual choreography as it happens, the easy attire. And yet it all adds up to more.  
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. (Well, except for the brief episodes of spoken narratives, which break rather than enhance concentration for the viewer, and perhaps, too, the dancer-speakers.) First, a solo, Joseph Poulson in "You Go When You Can No Longer Stay," from 2004. Then a duet, for tall, strong Karl Rogers and the more slight Keith Thompson, the longtime Trisha Brown dancers and associate, and the senior member of this troupe, and the most sharply calibrated. This was the new piece for which the program was named, called "A Likeness." It opened with an extended section in unison, which revealed how much you can tell about the differences between performers when each does the same movement as himself. Same timing, different affect. Next, the soloist from the first dance–that's Poulson–and Rogers were joined by Darren Wright in another new piece, "My Pleasure," where the two we'd previously met combined forces to support the handsome young newcomer. This was followed by an endearingly goofy and earnest quartet by four young visual artists who take their dance very seriously. It's a piece called "Broken Hearts Club," dating from 2004. Its purpose–besides the endearing earnestness of the performers–one has a furry tummy that pokes out of his shirt, one wears his eyeglasses, etc.–is apparent when the next dance begins. Another quartet, for the four men who danced the first three pieces. Seen right after a quartet of non-dancers performing similar movement, all the skills of these men are heightened.  A wonderfully didactic lesson, unstated, but clear.
Clarity, clarity, clarity. It will never go out of style, even in a time when it isn't stylish. The scene around Creach has changed, but his consistency of concern has not. From here, it looks like a philosophy.

Volume 3, No. 44
November 28, 2005

copyright ©2005 Nancy Dalva



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last updated on November 28, 2005