Postmodernizers

By MARCIA B. SIEGEL  |  February 28, 2006

Hollinsworth and Miller do a scene of kinky domesticity. He sits on a chair and she lies on her back on the floor next to him. In the first of several bizarre games, she produces a feather and blows on it till it floats above her chest; without looking he shoots out his fist and snatches it.

These contests can become sadistic. In a sequence involving a step ladder and some sturdy rigging, Hollinsworth lies on a mat, attached in a harness. A man at the other side of the stage pulls her up. She mounts the steps, or maybe rappels off them, kicking in mid air. She just wants to lie down. He pulls her up again and again, and then, when she’s sitting on top of the ladder, she releases the harness. Poulson grabs the hook and pulls himself up to her.

Even when the action appears self-evident, Marshall’s interactions seem to have some multivalent charge. The dancers carry out the practical work of setting up, but sometimes you can’t really tell whether they’re beginning a new dance section or just walking through a scene change.

Marshall’s dance produces strong visual images that are loaded and lingering, and sometimes surprisingly beautiful. For one section near the end of Cloudless, people made a pile out of the furniture, with a large electric fan laid on top. Two persons came out and stood next to the pile in a dim light. When someone else turned on the fan, they released a snowstorm of white flakes from their hands.

Seán Curran started his company in 1997 after years of eclectic adventures, including stints with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane and with Stomp. His great strength is his dance impulse — or, as a friend observed, he’s really about steps. Marshall, I think, conceives dance in gestural units. Where she’s mysterious, suggestive, Curran is pragmatic and immediate. You retain the vitality of his dance, its drive, but curiously you don’t picture it later on. Curran’s drama comes from dancing itself, and from the dancers’ acting abilities. They aren’t at all neutral when they perform, but their relationships aren’t fixed either.

The Seán Curran Company performances over the weekend inaugurated a new downtown theater, in Dance New Amsterdam’s beautifully renovated complex of studios that will house an ambitious program of classes, workshops, and performances in the landmark New York Sun building.

With Heather Waldon, Curran performed the 2002 "Companion Dances," which was just that, a duo of friendship and appreciation. In his excerpt from Schubert Solos (2003), he seemed to be doing a set of increasingly fancy extrapolations on first position, working harder and harder to please, to get through it. A romantic duet from Art/Song/Dance (2004) for Waldon and Kevin Scarpin looked as if it might have been choreographed for a Broadway musical in or about the 1940s.

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