BOUDER'S "BOLDNESS OF ATTACK" SHINES IN SCHER'S "TOUCH"

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(left to right: Ashley Bouder, Antonio Carmena, Russell Janzen)

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All photos of Ashley Bouder, Antonio Carmena and Russell Janzen by Matthew Murphy.

Review by Michael Northrop

Avi Scher & Dancers debuted the dynamic new piece “Touch” at the 2009 Contemporary Dance Festival at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center Saturday. The music, Aphex Twin’s “Blue Calx” performed by Alarm Will Sound, fit right in on a mixed bill that ranged from quieter balletic moments from the host company, Thang Dao Dance, to some entertaining, Pilobol-esque body-stacking from Phoenix Project Dance Theater.

That was it for fitting in, though. Everything else about “Touch” stood out, starting with the dancers. New York City Ballet corps member Russell Janzen, soloist Antonio Carmena, and principal Ashley Bouder were tremendous, and the choreography made the most of the trio’s athleticism. This was not a timid exploration of the stage. Whenever there was a question (a half step, a reach), the answer was yes (continue, embrace).

Janzen and Carmena came out shirtless in bike shorts. Aesthetically, this highlighted the physicality of the piece, which included some exceptional lifts. (Psychologically, it just made every guy in the audience feel like a toneless dumpazoid—or perhaps I project? In either case, it was a big hit with the row of teen girls behind me.)

Bouder, dressed in black, was marvelous. She reminded me of that great line, that great scene, from Geoffrey Rush’s Oscar-winning 1996 movie Shine: “Boldness of attack.” In the movie, Rush, as a brilliant pianist, has to be prodded to it. On Saturday, Bouder was committed to it from the start. Her pointework was precise but bristling with power.

Anyone who saw Scher’s work at the City Center Studios in June or the Ailey Citigroup Theater in September knows that he has a real flair for physical, crowd-pleasing pieces set to contemporary music. This fierce, fresh piece manages to both fit right in with that and, again, stand out.

7 Comments

  1. What a fantastic night of dance that was, I really felt blessed to be in the audience.

  2. AnneCoburnWhitmore

    Aw, favorite guest dance blogger on SLSG! Yay! ;), thanks, Michael!!

    Still *so not over* the flu … lovely chaser to my migraine on Halloween…ugh, stupid virus. Stay healthy, you guys!!
    Thanks for some nice reading! :)

  3. I loved the music Scher used for “Touch,” though it was hard for me to watch the dynamic Bouder dance against the music. I could totally see her playing with the rhythm of the metronome, which would have made for interesting musicality. How come you didn't mention the versatile ex-Complexion dancer, Kimi Nikaidoh?I thought she was the show stealer. I heard more gasps when she danced than other dancers. I mean Bouder was beautiful and technical, but Nikaidoh was by far the more musical and interesting dancer to watch.

  4. Anne: Thanks! I hope you feel better soon. That flu has hung on long enough and needs to be kicked to the curb.

    London: Nikaidoh was fantastic for Thang Dao. (I was also impressed with her in Emery LeCrone's piece at the New Choreographers on Point showcase at Ailey in September.) I only reviewed Scher's piece because I'm just a guest in these parts, and that is the one that interested me most. I'm definitely intrigued to see what Ms. Nikaidoh does next, though.

  5. I should probably have phrased that “I reviewed only Scher's piece because…” The point being that I never intended to review the whole program. But now that I'm here again, I have a second opportunity to take up the “who's better” argument. At the risk of using all my willpower for the week in one day, I'm still not going to do it. They are both fantastic dancers, and it seems like a false dichotomy to me. What would we be debating, musicality? To vastly different music? Meh.

  6. Anne: Thanks! I hope you feel better soon. That flu has hung on long enough and needs to be kicked to the curb.

    London: Nikaidoh was fantastic for Thang Dao. (I was also impressed with her in Emery LeCrone's piece at the New Choreographers on Point showcase at Ailey in September.) I only reviewed Scher's piece because I'm just a guest in these parts, and that is the one that interested me most. I'm definitely intrigued to see what Ms. Nikaidoh does next, though.

  7. I should probably have phrased that “I reviewed only Scher's piece because…” The point being that I never intended to review the whole program. But now that I'm here again, I have a second opportunity to take up the “who's better” argument. At the risk of using all my willpower for the week in one day, I'm still not going to do it. They are both fantastic dancers, and it seems like a false dichotomy to me. What would we be debating, musicality? To vastly different music? Meh.

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