September 18, 2015
Ailey Citigroup Theatre
New York, NY
By: Jerry Hochman and Cecly Placenti
Trainor Dance never fails to impress. Devoid of artifice and pretension, Caitlin Trainor’s work is pure dance for the joy of it- fluid, intricate, and exuberant. Friday night’s program, the company’s fifth anniversary celebration, was no exception. With a mix of older works, guest contributions, and two world premieres, the evening’s program is delightful in its variety while still being cohesive. What was evident throughout the evening is Trainor’s ability not only to string together four very different yet symbiotic pieces, but also her ability to create choreography rich in contrast and movement variety within one single piece.
Faux Pas is a lively piece for seven dancers and seven gorgeous, flowing, jewel-toned skirts. Even though this presentation was only an excerpt from the company’s 2014 premiere, which we previously reviewed in detail, it was more than sufficient to highlight Trainor’s innate musicality and musical mind. She phrases the music in pleasing and satisfying ways, making it come alive visually so that the viewer’s senses are awake, alive and in communion. And it is equally strong visually. Detailed petite allegro, suspended extensions, and lush pirouettes came together in a kaleidoscope of color and movement, as well as sound. The large silk skirts shimmer like sunbeams on a lake, serving as varied costumes (not just skirts) and also as partners to the dancers. The fabric in constant motion (costumes are by David Quinn) is almost as fascinating to watch as the dancers, each of whom execute Trainor’s choreography with superb precision, grace and energy.
Also visually stunning, Sandpainting (2012) is a true feast for the eyes. Images seem to be painted on the air, as if time is slowing down to highlight a moment, and then are washed away again by faster waves of kinetic architecture. At some points tribal, angular and percussive, with a distinct Asian/fusion sensibility, Sandpainting melts into moments of sinuous softness, duets and solos parting the air like time-lapse photography, only to pick up speed again, like waves crashing and receding on a beach. Each dancer is nuanced and masterful, able to command the technique and contrasting dynamics effortlessly. Of special note is Emily Pacilio, who moved like a perfect little doll in her wind-up-toy-like solo, changing positions to the staccato sound of a ticking clock, as if illuminated by a strobe light – a precursor, to a degree, of the program’s final piece.
For this program, Trainor invited Takehiro Ueyama, Artistic Director and Choreographer of Take Dance, to create a duet for her and Take Dance’s Brynt Beitman to help celebrate the evening. Ueyama’s work is always rich in breadth and scope, and Dear Friends,one of the two World Premieres on Friday’s program, is no exception. Inspired by a message from the Mexican art community, Dear Friend is a political protest, a human rights commentary, and a tribute to the unjust murder of a fellow artist – but it also works as a powerful duet of mutual respect.
The program notes direct the viewer to the blog of Lucia Naser, found at http://juntandonotas.blogspot.com/2015/ ... n-art.html
, in which the author implores the international arts community: “We ask you to speak out with us, and since many of you perform, speak, write, screen, show... we ask you to take a moment during your presentations to talk about the five. We think that it is important to talk about this in spaces open to direct affective exchange. For those who are gone, but also for those of us who stay.”
Ueyama’s moving statement about this atrocity was both tender and aggressive. Trainor and Beitman are at first trapped in a rectangle of light, sometimes running frantically to escape, other times pacing in resignation. Beitman is stoic in his handling of Trainor, tossing her forcefully and expressionlessly around the stage, the two often locked in some painful battle before once again pacing the perimeter of their ‘cell’. In contrast, there also were moments of extreme tenderness in the contact between Trainor and Beitman, ,perhapsthe calm before yet another storm, but equally emblematic of the deep relationship between them.. Trainor is such an emotive, expressive dancer, her facial expressions drawing you into the emotional experience of her dancing as much as her movements do.
Closing the evening was the World Premiere of Trainor’s (In)visible- a futuristic kinetic firework for six dancers. Dressed in all white Jetsons-looking tutus and tops, the piece opens with a sinuous solo for the long and supple Landes Dixon, and explodes into a flurry of jumps, turns, and gymnastic feats. Michael Rivera, who seems to have a spine made of rubber, thrilled in his capoeira-esque phrasework. The use of a strobe light, however, is what gives this piece a whole new dimension of excitement. Suddenly the dancers seem to be living 3D photographs, and each time the strobe flashes, at a very rapid pace, the image on stage is a perfect photo in relief. As the strobe effect is either sped up or slowed down, the dancers seem to be suspended in time, frozen in motion, thus changing the way one normally sees dance. Allegra Herman, a focal point of this segment, looked particularly intriguing as the strobe highlighted one position after another.
In real time, dance is seen in constant motion, or in stillness at the beginning and end of a motion.The use of strobe lighting enables us to see what is normally invisible to the human eye except in still photographs- we see each position reached during a single movement, highlighted and standing out on its own, rather than moved through as the dancer continues dancing. Such a simple trick of lighting creates multifaceted results, and further enhanced an overall program where nothing looked the same as anything else. It was a great way to celebrate the company’s anniversary.