by Cecly Placenti
June 22, 2007 -- Abron Arts Center, New York City, NY
Dancers are lucky artists. From classical to club, rock to hip-hop, jazz to minimal sound-scapes, and every conceivable sound in between, dancers get to fit their steps to a multitude of rhythms in a variety of contexts. “Masters in Motion: A modern dance homage to classic Mozart with new music by Moby,” presented master musicians from opposite ends of the auditory spectrum.
In “Home,” a narrative set to a medley of Moby’s songs, familial dysfunction hid behind perfect picket fences and socially acceptable masks. Ms. Fadjo uses both traditional modern dance movements and pedestrian gestures to tell the story of three couples. We are introduced to the “perfect” suburban neighbors, and as the piece unfurls we see the darker sides of each couple- the dynamic between the sex-starved husband and his frigid wife, between the overworked husband and his neglected partner. The dancers in Ms. Fadjo’s company look much stronger than they did a year and a half ago when I first saw them. Breanna Smith is a long, lithe beauty who dances with grace and ease. Hana Ginsburg is a technical wizardess commanding the stage with confidence and precision. In the male fight scene, Joshua Knowlton, Jordan Koh and Anthony-Levi Madison had a wonderfully gooey slow motion routine counterbalanced by the driving beat of the music. In the end, masks back on, the neighbors get together for a party, their dysfunction put away for yet another day.
In sudden contrast to the techno beats of Moby, “Mariah,” set to Mozart’s Piano Concerto 23, presented a quirky and sprightly soloist set against the group. It often appeared that the solo dancer either led or followed the group, happily, yet wanting to be in time with them rather than in point or counter-point. There were playful moments of you-can’t-get-by-me with another dancer, until at the end the group finally takes her in. The choreography was light and twinkling, almost giddy, in perfect tandem with Mozart’s score.
I certainly appreciated the obvious differences in movement style from piece to piece throughout the evening. Modern dancers are especially lucky in that their art form fuses and encompasses any and all others to define and propel it. “Split Down the Middle” was a captivating solo performed by Ms. Fadjo to music by Moby. As strong as all her dancers are, a choreographer doing her own movement, moving in the intrinsic and organic way her body moves, stands out from the rest. In a bright blue unitard, her long blond hair loose and swinging, Ms. Fadjo was a knockout. The solo was mesmerizing, undulating throughout her long torso like snakes being charmed, with sudden angular accents in her arms or legs, mimicking the music.
Working with a large group of dancers in any given piece is a challenge in clarity. “Running on Time,” for a group of eight, was the cleanest of all the ensemble work in the evening, but still was not quite clean enough. At several intervals in the evening I was distracted by sections I knew were supposed to be together yet were not. “Running on Time” was pleasingly crisp and aggressive, technically and musically strong. “Figaro Ties the Knot” was kitschy and over-the-top funny. “METROnome,” a sneak preview of a new work, combined modern dance movement with “club” dancing and break dancing elements.
The challenges any choreographer faces when presenting an evening of her own work is getting stuck in a style or structure that over time gets monotonous. Some of the pieces could have used a bit more editing or a slight push to move them out of what is Ms. Fadjo’s comfort zone. Pieces like “Split Down the Middle” and “METROnome” went more in that direction. With so many choices in movement and music, it is a danger well worth fighting to avoid.
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