July 20, 2012
Luna Negra, based in Chicago, made their Jacob's Pillow debut as part of the 80th Anniversary Celebration. Directed by, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, the company of nine dancers is bold, forceful and athletic--celebrating Latin culture and its rich diversity.
"BATE", choreographed by Fernando Melo, began with a half scrim of black velvet revealing only the legs of the dancers. A lone, barefoot woman walked across, dangling her red shoes. As the extremely long train of her dress followed, it turned into a conveyor belt, carrying more pairs of red shoes, until a lone flower pot with a red flower whizzed on stage! It was evident the five men in dark suits and white shirts had feelings in every part of their bodies. Inventively lit windows by David Stockholm revealed a face, torso, feet, or legs -sometimes holding a handkerchief or a hat...or a woman! The men inflated and deflated, like human balloons, reacting to the ups and downs of their moods. Nigel Campbell stood out for his clear yet sensual dancing while Eduardo Zuñiga was extremely flexible and rubbery.
Next came "The Naked Ape", by Fernando Hernando Magadan in collaboration with multi-media artist Harmen Straatman. It is an odd piece, with a quartet of dancers in white filmy costumes, artfully designed by Tomoko Inamura. As dancer Zoltan Katona enters wearing a dark suit, he begins speaking in a foreign language and looks like an instructional video, describing the moveable parts of each dancer. While examining the lighted sculptures of pants, shirts, and jumpsuits, he clicks a switch, making the four dancers react with twitching and shaking spasms to the electronic sounds of jungle animals.
Eventually the music changes to J.S. Bach, and two duets ensue, allowing Christopher Bordenave, Mónica Cervantes, Kirsten Shelton and Mr. Zuñiga to display their partnering skills. The dance exposes the need for human connection and how technology can interrupt it.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Deborah Wingert
Last on the program was "REQUIEM", choreographed by company member Mónica Cervantes. A solo full of scratching, convulsing, and violent shaking hands opens the piece, creating a feeling of alienation. As the piece unfolds between lines of string hung across the stage, I thought of the strings as a staff and the dancers as notes. Ms. Cervantes seems to feel loss can be overcome by looking for the elements to help us move forward.....and expecting them.