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Nicholas Andre Dance Theatre

A Dance Journey

by Cecly Placenti

July 18, 2008 -- Dance Theatre Workshop, New York

Seeing an evening of Nick Seligson-Ross’ work feels like floating on a wave, being carried naturally along by the rise and fall of the current of his choreography. With movements both soft and jagged, Seligson-Ross knows how to phrase and contrast to create a profound sense of completion in his work. Audience and performers are on a journey, and we come to rest together with a sense of fulfillment and excitement.

In “The Last Man,” Seligson-Ross uses repeated movements and structures, varying them slightly from beginning to end. This theme and variation serves to tie his ideas together, further imparting the sense of journeying with him and his fiercely talented dancers. A brilliant contrast to the female quartet that preceded it, “The Last Man” features the glory of men in motion. Not overplaying the obvious strength inherent in the male form, Seligson-Ross highlights gracefulness that is still grounded and solid, never saccharine or drippy.  What gives the fluidity of his work so much clarity is its directness. The movement rides on the music with ease, yet each step, each gesture or change of direction is purposeful and extremely clear.

“Etched” is an exploration of the dancer as athlete. Angular, precise and technically demanding, four female dancers attack the movement with controlled abandon. On this evening, the dancers’ execution was bold and authoritative, the dancers strong and beautiful, their forceful, bound movements highlighted by moments of opposition.

One of two world-premieres, “Still Life,” is a look at the stages of human relationships in three parts. Each section a duet, we see romantic love from its first coy blossoms to its unfortunate detachment. With movements that span the emotional spectrum from flirty and playful to isolated and icy, the piece creates a landscape of universal human experience.

Dynamically varied and unpredictably phrased, “In the Absence of Others” looks at the emotions we often don’t want others to see -- the struggles, fears, and sadness behind the “happy face.”

“Passio Nostri,” Seligson-Ross’s second world premiere, is a requiem, an otherworldly dirge calling souls forth to a new place. Of all the pieces this evening, “Passio Nostri” stands out as the most different, breaking away from an unfolding signature style with spastic and erratic gestures. The costumes, dark bondage-type tops and blacked out eyes, give the impression of demons in the underworld.

Seligson-Ross expertly blends athleticism with artistry in celebration of the dancer as athlete. His pieces are technically profound and kinesthetically exciting, bridging an important gap in audiences’ perception of dance and sport. He choreographs dances like he is putting together pieces of a puzzle. He is an explorer, discovering pictures and patterns as he goes along. As the journey ended this evening, one blissful hour from start to finish, I left pleasantly satiated yet longing for more.

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