BOTTOM LINE: This is a dance show/concert well worth seeing. The show's title "Like Lazarus Did" is taken from the lyrics of american slave songs set to the luscious compositions of Son Lux. The visual aspect is by artist Janine Antoni who also remains suspended above the audience in a helicopter stretcher. Poetic lighting is by Ken Tabachnick and costumes are by H.Petal and Tara Subkoff.
The pre-show outside the Joyce includes about 50 teens/members of the Young People's Chorus Of NYC filling the sidewalks with beautiful sound along with musicians Ryan Lott (aka Son Lux), C J Cambieri and Rob Moose. The chorus enters the theater to fill the aisles for a brief moment before the show starts. For the remainder of the show, the chorus is above the action in the balcony. They add a beautiful soundscape with youthful energy, directed by Francisco Nunez.
Choreographer Stephen Petronio starts by laying on the stage with the curtain slightly raised. The visual artist Janine Antoni lays in a metal helicopter stretcher suspended above the audience. Her performance is her meditation. It is a grand set up, and a mobile of bones and body parts hang above her. Frankly I forgot she was there until the show ended, but I like the idea of stillness and detachment from the body. It is a rising from consciousness that goes well with the themes of regeneration, rebirth and transcendence. That is what Lazarus did, after all.
Son Lux's electro acoustic score is perfectly matched to the accumulations and repetitive movements. I appreciate the pedestrian moments in Petronio's work as these beautiful creatures walk onto stage and look almost bored before breaking into emotionally charged movement. You can see his influence from the great Steve Paxton and Trisha Brown. Though there is no intermission, the second half is markedly different with a costume change. Each of the dancers is stunning and the technical fortitude and presence of Emily Stone, Jaqlin Medlock, Joshua Green, Davalois Fearon and Nicholas Scisone is impressive. I loved the aggressive quartet and the touching solo by Scisone.
I was very impressed by the production and it seemed the fashionable audience thought so too. I didn't feel excluded as if they were trying too hard though. The pre-show concert was a touch of brilliance for these musicians and for the marketing. I know that in the past Stephen Petronio has worked with the likes of Nico Muhly, Nick Cave an even with visual artist Cindy Sherman. I can't wait to see what this Joyce Theater artist in residence will bring to the table next.
(Like Lazarus Did plays at The Joyce Theatre, 175 Eighth Avenue, through May 5, 2013. Tickets are $69. For more information and to purchase tickets visit joyce.org.)