Directed and Choreographed by Patricia Noworol; Dramaturgy by Erik Abbott-Main
Off Off Broadway, Dance
April 30, 2015 through May 2, 2015
New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street
by Jane Sato on 5.4.15
Replacement Place by Patricia Noworol Dance Theater. Photo by Aeric Meredith Goujon.
BOTTOM LINE: Patricia Noworol has selected an awe inspiring group of five multi-faceted collaborators who can act, sing, dance and play awesome music.
The stage is stripped bare except for some fluorescent light tubes marking the perimeter not unlike Dan Flavin’s light sculptures do in a gallery setting. There is an extremely casual unpretentious tone as a woman enters and exits the stage while scanning the audience. Patricia’s work is supposed to explore the impact of the unfamiliar with the known. “One’s complex understanding of a known landscape, and the exchange of competing ideas that is the core of our social interaction.”
The show feels very episodic and doesn’t pretend to have seamless transitions, but maybe that is one of it’s strengths. At points we are waiting for the next thing to happen, the performers talk between themselves, sit on the side and drink water and catch their breath beforehand, so we feel like we can do the same. There are a few moments when the performers clap for each other, though, and it directs the audience like an applause track would instead of letting the moment pass organically. The three movers are Troy Ogilvie, Nick Bruder and AJ “ The Animal, a flex/hip hop dancer/rapper. Ogilvie and Bruder have danced for Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More. Chris Lancaster, an esteemed electro-cellist, plays his compositions the entirety of the show. Brent Arnold is a guest cellist who plays just for one show.
Troy eases and contorts her body effortlessly and you wonder how she doesn’t face-plant as she tears across the stage. Nick, a solid dancer in his own right, is also a fine artist and singer. He sits down in a pool of light on an empty stage and brings out a pair of stiletto boots. For that transition, we watch him take a water break. He then begins facing back slouching on the ground with hat on to sing RadioHead’s "Creep” and breaks into full song. AJ stands out with his staccato movements and it’s hard not to watch him interpret all the phrases. On some level this idea of combining genres of flex dancing with concert dance isn’t new in the dance world as Lil Buck recently guested with New York City Ballet. It tends to feel more like an appreciation than a true collaboration. Noworol has taken this challenge up and has Troy introduce us to AJ and how she’s learned flex technique. At first their unison duet seems too obvious, but it morphs into a duet. AJ is featured not only by his sharpness and precision but also his slithering, gliding across the floor as the other dancers frame him.
During all of this the compositions passionately played and layered by Lancaster set a strong, emotional jumping board for everyone else. He isn’t just a musician, though, and he becomes quite a part of the moving thread in the largest dance phrase that unites the four performers. This section consists of Troy with tape turning her nose up into a snout directing all of the dancers to make this dance, and thanking them. This piece ends with the strongest emotional charge. The duet between Nick and Troy is both erotic and understated. They move towards the audience, and movements such as biting a finger and holding of hips make time stop and stretch. This full-length work feels a little choppy, but so is life, so it felt both familiar and unfamiliar in the theater setting.
(Replacement Place played at New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street, through May 2, 2015. Tickets were $30, available at telecharge.com or by calling 212.924.0077.)