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October 3, 2010

Playing with gravity, right coast left coast

Last Thursday, choreographer Steven Petronio made a guest appearance with Trisha Brown Dance Company -- currently celebrating its 40th anniversary -- to walk down the side of the Whitney Museum of American Art. Petronio, secured with ropes and harness, was walking parallel to the ground. He was reprising Brown's 1971 "Man Walking Down the Side of a Building," one of her simple yet spectacular "equipment dances." As he took his first steps over the edge, the crowd gasped, noted dance critic Roslyn Sulcas in The New York Times. She said it took him only about three minutes to walk to the ground, his body and head straight, strolling as though there was nothing extraordinary about it. 

About five hours later and 3,000 miles away, six dancers of Project Bandaloop, an Oakland, CA, company founded by Amelia Rudolph, skittered and leapt about the wall of the Orange County Performing Arts Center. I was among the 5,000 gathered in the Performing Arts Center's plaza for this free concert and the premiere of "IdEgo," a complex, 50-minute  piece with six dancers, live music, text and digital projections. This kind of dance requires sophisticated climbing equipment. No attempt was made to hide the ropes that held the performers, but it didn't diminish the powerful and dizzying effect: the dancers' huge jetés enacted in slow motion, one dancer holding up another with just his fingers, and other feats that looked, to those on the ground, to be proving wrong the laws of physics (when, in fact, it was just the opposite). 

More than miles separate these two companies and two choreographers, women who bring differing visions and intentions to their choreography. But I also liked the symbolism -- dancers walking on walls on the same day, at opposite ends of the country, a very dramatic demonstration of how one artist breaks boundaries for another.

October 3, 2010 8:58 PM | | Comments (0)

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