Social settings

Seán Curran at the Tsai Center
By MARCIA B. SIEGEL  |  October 30, 2007
CURRAN_802inside
ARIA/APOLOGY: An ironic acknowledgment
of the co-existence of art and evil?

At first, Seán Curran’s dance looks like a formal exposition of movement, but after a while you begin to imagine webs of social interactions, relationships, and hidden histories. His ability to bring about this human resonance is one of the things that make him an intriguing choreographer. Curran, who started as a Boston Irish stepdancer, brought his 10-year-old company to the Tsai Center last weekend as the first of this season’s Celebrity Series dance offerings.

The Nothing That Is Not There and the Nothing That Is (1998) is set to five recorded piano pieces from Leos Janácek’s On anOvergrown Path. Although both the dance and the music seem to be latter-day elaborations on folk-dance fundamentals, Curran resists the almost descriptive, post-romantic feel of the score. The four dancers (Nora Brickman, Evan Copeland, Francesca Roma and Kevin Scarpin) clump and tilt around on flexed feet, angling their arms out in parallel, palms-flat gestures.

There’s a certain robotlike rigidity in this movement, but then the mechanical feeling will pull up as the dancers look intently at one another, or bump into a different gear. The two small women streak back and forth in soaring jetés. The men slowly wrestle each other to the ground. Rather than illustrating the score, the dancers seem to absorb its implications of sociability and sentiment.

In Aria/Apology, from 2005, we hear recorded confessions from people who’ve committed senseless crimes and gotten away with them — they’re not particularly repentant, they just want to get something off their chests — alternating with sublime Handel arias sung by Renée Fleming. The dancers listen to the casual rapists and murderers, the gorgeous music. Brickman and Copeland do a tender duet with the gracious arms and delicate stepping of a Baroque dance. Falling softly, rolling out of a long, breathless handstand, Scarpin seems to empathize with the victims of a homophobic predator. Two couples duet simultaneously, at one point doing the same movements but with one couple reversing the other’s gender roles. Perhaps the whole dance is an ironic acknowledgment of the co-existence of art and evil.

Curran seems to be incorporating the percussive toughness of his rhythm-dance background into a more fluid movement style, with a more flexible attachment to the music. Social Discourse, which was having its world premiere, uses selections from Radiohead Thom Yorke’s controversial The Eraser. Yorke sings in a high tenor against various complicated rhythm tracks, but the dancers seem to ignore this in the beginning. Or maybe I was just attracted to how much more twisting and spiraling there was in their movement than I’d seen in the previous dances.

As the dance went on, in their duets and solos, they seemed increasingly drawn into the pulse, picking up on the big rhythmic beats of the music, till they worked up to a group consensus that played with the fast, complicated rhythms. The dance was still about the same approach-retreat, push-pull, lift-and-carry interactions we’d seen earlier, but its rapprochement with the music was satisfying in a different, more subtle way.

1  |  2  |   next >
  Topics: Dance , Entertainment, Science and Technology, Radiohead,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY MARCIA B. SIEGEL
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   MARK MORRIS'S SOCRATES, THE MUIR, AND FESTIVAL DANCE  |  May 22, 2012
    Erik Satie called his vocal work Socrate a "symphonic drama," though it's anything but dramatic in a theatrical sense — or symphonic, either.
  •   JOFFREY BALLET GETS ITS DUE  |  May 08, 2012
    New York has two great ballet companies, New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theater. Any other ballet troupe that wants to put down roots there has to develop a personality that's distinct from those two.
  •   THE BOSTON BALLET’S DON QUIXOTE  |  May 01, 2012
    In the long string of ballet productions extracted from Miguel de Cervantes's novel Don Quixote, the delusional Don has become a minor character, charging into situations where he shouldn't go and causing trouble instead of good works.
  •   THE TREY MCINTYRE PROJECT IGNITES THE ICA  |  March 21, 2012
    When Trey McIntyre found a base for his infant company in Boise, Idaho, four years ago, eyebrows lifted in the dance world.
  •   BALLET HISPANICO FALLS SHORT  |  March 13, 2012
    All three dances presented by Ballet Hispanico at the Cutler Majestic last weekend depended heavily on costume effects to convey their messages.

 See all articles by: MARCIA B. SIEGEL