ANDY DE GROAT & CATHERINE GALASSO:
December 14, 2015
Although Danspace Project's mission statement emphasizes their support for new work in dance, dance history is very much alive within the walls of St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery. In recent years, the Judson Now series has brought us back to that storied time in the early 1960s. In the last few days, they presented Andy de Groat and Catherine Galasso’s collaboration – an evening that was both a detailed account of de Groat's life and career, and a meditation on the challenges of "re-performance and live archiving."
The only new work on the program, notes on de groat (2015) was written and directed by Galasso, daughter of composer Michael Galasso, de Groat's long-time collaborator. Inspired in part by her research for the show, the work includes performers speaking about the process into a microphone as they dance, sit at a table, or roll on the floor.
Biographical minutiae about the dancers and why she chose them, de Groat’s love life with Robert Wilson, and his trip to pre-Revolutionary Iran is interspersed with confessional notes on her anxiety about “contaminating the work” as she restages it: drawing attention to the challenges of reproducing another’s choreography, and adding another layer to our perception of her very successful efforts.
The evening as a whole was an absorbing, well-paced account of de Groat's work, made even more compelling by the wonderful presence and dancing of some of de Groat’s dancers from the 1970s – indeed, we witnessed a real, breathing, living archive.
Watching an old film of Rope Dance Translations (1974/79), a minimalist dance where the performers revolve in place and swing ropes around themselves like lassos, while two of the film’s original cast members simultaneously reprised it before us, was a highlight – and one of many moments that seemed to collapse past and present.
In an excerpt of Swan Lac (1982), an energetic, young cast goes through the aerobic paces with 21st century polish, while the Talking Heads music and bright yellow, short jumpsuits took us right back to the 1980s.
And the controlled chaos of get wrecked, a group dance that combined pedestrian runs with floor work and poses in seemingly random patterns, to spoken syllables and words, contrasted beautifully with fan dance, an intricate dance with walking patterns that change or reverse with every musical inflection, as the dancers – tall, short, young old – moved as one with a riveting grace, and knowing smiles.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson