April 9, 2012
When seeing hip-hop dance, you expect something from music videos, clubs,
perhaps from a street performance at the park. It’s something catchy, easy to follow,
and really, really fun. But when you go to a performance at a venue dedicated to the
development of art, you expect something experimental, and very, very
different. And when you combine those two polar opposites, what do you get?
Decadancetheatre’s performance at the Joyce Soho. Founding artistic
director Jennifer Weber formed an all-woman company of hip-hop dancers on a
mission to fuse hip-hop and contemporary dance.
Two skilled dancers began the evening with an excerpt from a world premier
Set to the Summer Concerto from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, the choreography's energy shifted without warning between aggressive and
subdued. The aggression was detailed, musical, and powerful. Contemplative
moments were appropriately calm, but their harsh contrast with the rest of the
piece made them enigmatic.
“City Breathing: 2012 Remix,” began and
closed with a refreshingly dynamic solo performed in almost complete darkness by
Taeko Koji. The bulk of this piece, however, was an ensemble of dancers in the dark.
The only lights were their costumes: Full-body suits that flickered and could be
turned on and off. Even though the light-heartedness was a relief after the
pretentions of “4,” excluding Taeko Koji’s performance, in this piece, physicality was
disappointedly sacrificed for special effects.
For the third and final piece, “When the Sky Breaks 3D,” the audience was
asked to put on 3d glasses, which with the reflection of the lights on stage, quickly
became an obstruction to enjoying the dancing. Gradually, not a single member of
the audience was wearing them. Once again, there were moments of satisfying
technicalities, interspersed with puzzling contemplation. Every few minutes,
breakdancing came as a break from the choreography’s ambiguous musing.
Decadancetheatre’s risk should be applauded—Weber’s effort to introduce
hip-hop to the contemporary dance scene is much appreciated. The company clearly
has skill and potential, but it is definitely trying to find its voice.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY --