Phrenic New Ballet
'Tabula Rasa,' 'High Low Short & Tight,' 'Until Ten,' and 'Pursuit'
by Lewis Whittington
August 13-16, 2003 -- Mandell Theatre at Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
The Phrenic New Ballet’s name, "Phrenic," refers to the diaphragm’s reflexive breathing nerve--a name symbolic of this company’s artistic goal to stay grounded in classical ballet technique infused with liberating, natural artistic impulse. Co-founded three years ago by artistic directors Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan, both currently dancers with the Pennsylvania Ballet, and ex-PB dancer Amanda Miller, the fourth member is dance filmmaker Tobin Rothlein, Miller’s husband.
Without doubt, the company has covered a lot of ground in just three years with mature works like Neenan’s "Frequencies" and Cox’s "Ashen," and performing when PB is off-season is a tricky prospect considering the ambitious works seen so far. Joined mostly with other PB dancers, Phrenic attracts some of the most interesting guest dancers and choreographers around the country, such as choreographer Jessica Lange, Eric Wagner from San Francisco Ballet, and this year, Thaddeus Davis from Donald Bryd‘s company. Phrenic has been innovative, unexpected, and memorable, carving a distinct niche for professional dance in Philadelphia.
The four dances presented at Drexel University’s Mandell Theatre on August 13-16 represents a pause in Phrenic’s upward trajectory, revealing growing pains of a developing company. Phrenic dancers are always technically impressive and no matter what variation a unison group is using, for instance, there is no missing the classical training. Yet several times during this bill, there were form breaks and a general sluggishness. more
<small>[ 12 September 2003, 11:10 AM: Message edited by: Lori ]</small>