Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Reviewed by George Jackson
McCauley tasks herself seriously. Her choreography tackles enduring music.
She insists within reason of having that music live. In different dance
works, she cultivates distinct worlds. The shapes of her dances are legible,
steps link logically, her dancers are challenged in ways that suit their
gifts and (when the music doesn't do it for her), Bowen McCauley knows
when to stop. She entertains her public, and educates it just a bit. All
that sounds good. There aren't many choreographers of whom one can say
as much, yet I find myself waiting for more. Are there further steps for
Bowen McCauley to take?
This "Evening at the Terrace" opened with ah, love
(2003) to some of Brahms's Liebeslieder Walzer and also included a solo,
Ian (premiere), to excerpts from the companion set, the Neue
Liebeslieder Walzer. In a dance goer's mind this waltz music conjures
previous choreography by, respectively, George Balanchine and Mark Morris.
For Unseen Powers (2003), again there was Brahms (the second
movement of his second piano concerto). In this instance it was the movement
that made one think of symphonic ballets and Leonide Massine's use of
dancers as architecture in motion. It seems Bowen McCauley isn't afraid
to challenge the masters, or even on occasion a local colleague—Pasion
(premiere) steps onto the tango territory Juan Carlos Rincones has claimed
as his own hereabouts.
Bowen McCauley makes of the love piece a vignette about a threesome, two
women and a man (Elizabeth Gaus, Ingrid Zimmer and Marco Gallerizzo).
The choreography explores the situation's romantic dilemma in a dual way
by using mimetic humor (with a light touch) and tell tale movement signs
such as clenched fists and exclamatory arms. The piece's fundamental dance
style is loosely balletic (so-called flatfoot ballet) with the unusual
hands and arms creating a fascinating counterpoint to the more conventional
torso and leg motion. Instead of developing this anatomic polyphony, though,
the choreographer lets the hands-and-arms line drop away. What remains
is bodily balletic and facially mimetic. This pleasant piece ends less
interestingly than it began.
The solo to the New Lovesongs excerpts is clearly differentiated from
the dance for the threesome. The two works didn't adjoin on the program,
Brahms's music is more complex in the new waltzes and Bowen McCauley's
choreography is more than just loosely balletic. Obviously this is a showpiece
for a very promising young ballet dancer, Ian Lindeman. He has proud bearing
and an expansiveness that would suit spaces larger than the Terrace. But
why not allude to the love theme of the title? That would have answered
a further question about Lindeman—can he act? Unseen Powers was
also for the young—8 women led by Shelly Fletcher and Julie Petrusak.
This symphonic piece to recorded Brahms came as something of a sound shock
after live Brahms that had been performed by The Circle Singers under
Sondra Proctor's direction and pianists Laurie V. Bunn and Brenda Yeier.
As performance, too, Unseen Powers, a good school piece, didn't
quite belong on this program.
When men wear shoes why should women wear only slippers? The women in
Pasion were at a distinct disadvantage, especially since those
particularly thin, pallid slippers made feet look ugly. There was, though,
inventive movement throughout and effective dancer juxtapositioning. Another
asset was a juicy pouting role for the admirable Alison Crosby. Design
(Martha Mountain's lighting and Judy Hansen's costumes) contributed to
mood, as elsewhere on the program. Overall, though, Pasion wasn't
as riveting as Rincones's tangos can be.
Musica Ricercata (2001), to Gyorgy Ligeti piano music performed
by Bunn, is formally astute. Dancers are subtracted from a group of ten
and gradually added back. To match Ligeti's fragmentations and chiming,
Bowen McCauley stylized the choreography in a counter ballet way, close
to Alwin Nikolai modern movement and also not far from Mark Morris's newest
dance, All Fours, to a Bartok string quartet. One of Bowen McCauley's
prominent motion themes was music cartooning rather than music matching—a
squatting run with hands resting on the knees and shown in profile. Apart
from this image, Ricercata is full of handsome and aptly off-handsome
juxtapositions and interactions among the dancers. However, in memory
this Bowen McCauley work doesn't remain as clear as the dislikeable new
More clarity, lucidity? Greater consistency? Are these the next steps
for Lucy Bowen McCauley? She's very caring as a choreographer but dare
she kindle passion?
Volume 1, Number 4
October 20, 2003
Jean Battey Lewis
Sali Ann Kriegsman
Alexandra Tomalonis (Editor)
Autumn DanceView is out:
New York City Ballet's Spring 2003 season
reviewed by Gia Kourlas
interview with the Kirov Ballet's Daria Pavlenko
by Marc Haegeman
of San Francisco Ballet (by Rita Felciano)
and Paris Opera Ballet (by Carol Pardo)
The ballet tradition at the Metropolitan
Opera (by Elaine Machleder)
from London (Jane Simpson) and the Bay Area (Rita Felciano).
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