PERIDANCE CONTEMPORARY DANCE COMPANY
May 17, 2012
Founded in 1984 under the artistic direction of Igal Perry, whose two new
works “Conflicted Terrain” and “El Amor Brujo” bookended the show, the
Peridance Contemporary Dance Company’s return to New York after a brief hiatus
demonstrated a deep pool of talent within the company that bodes well for this
Set to Henryk Gorecki’s “String Quartet #3” performed by a string quartet led by
cellist Nan-Cheng Chen, “Conflicted Terrain” puts the music at the forefront of the
action by making the musicians an integral part of the piece. Placed on movable
wooden platforms, which the dancers pull about the space with thick ropes, the
quartet migrates around the floor, revolving, splitting apart and then coming
back together. All of this movement allows different parts of the music to emerge,
illuminating certain details that might not transmit in a stationary performance.
the music in the first section swells, the dancers quickly pull the quartet towards
the audience, making the musical crescendo both audible and physical. When not
engaged in moving the musicians, the dancers largely remain paired off in spotlights
that appear throughout the space. In a repeated tableau, a woman perched on one
leg with the other lifted high to the side and arms arched out like wings, is forced
into motion when her partner steps into the light, bumping into her extended leg.
Given the opening image of the spunky Madison McPhail seductively rolling her
shoulders and swaying her hips to the music, Sudeikis’ “I am you,” should be a
light, jazzy number that breaks up the general intensity of the other programming.
Unfortunately, the piece veers dramatically into melodrama, particularly as the
exuberant dancing is continually interrupted by making the dancers stand in a line
and speak. Against an orchestral score, the dancers take turns filling in the phrase “I
am…,” building into the inevitable conclusion: “I am you.”
In “The Ungathered” Sidra Bell creates a shadowy world where dancers in
dominatrix-style leather and studs struggle against each other and the confines of a
darkly lit, smoke-filled space, attempting to claw their way up the walls, presumably
towards some sort of escape. Amidst this struggle come moments of straight ballet
technique—supported leaps and pirouettes—which starkly contrast to instances
of flopping on the floor and running around the space. Combined with an eclectic
soundscape of electronic music, heavy breathing and some voiceovers, the effect is
otherworldly, if somewhat unclear.
Although presumably the main attraction, Perry’s new “El Amor Brujo” was
an underwhelming take on a Spanish gypsy love story, which relied heavily on
flamenco-influenced posturing and dramatic prowling about the space. Only the
stunning Joanna DeFelice—featured throughout the performance—was able to
transcend any deficiencies in the choreography, maintaining an appropriately
detached coolness throughout. The PostClassical Ensemble, seen through a sheer
screen, played Manuel de Falla’s score with precision and insightfulness.
That the whole show maintained an elevated level of speed and physicality is a
testament to the dancers’ endurance. It is evident that this is a fairly new company,
as unison sections were never executed entirely in tandem and, at times, it felt like
the individual dancers were competing with each other instead of working together
to form a coherent whole. However, given the technical prowess of the group, with
a few more months to coalesce, the Peridance Contemporary Dance Company could
truly be something special.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jessica Moore