In CityDance Ensemble, each dancer is a catalyst in his own right.
By Dawn Lim
CityDance Ensemble’s showing of “+1/-1” at Catalyst, performed at the Lansburgh Theatre this month, illustrated the chain reaction that kicks into place when one person confronts another. What happens when a dancer is added or subtracted from the scene? As the dancers shadowed, circled and threw one another around in a layered and unpredictable piece, they seemed to be playing off on the energy of one another, reacting to each other as if for the first time.
The individual dancer is capable of triggering a butterfly effect; he is a catalyst in his own right, the piece seemed to say. In his presence, he can shock his partner with his violence and strength; in his absence, the entire landscape turns desolate: a melancholic, absurd place where partners react belatedly, responding out of time.
Christopher Morgan’s piece was befitting of a company where dancers seem to retain their particularly distinct styles. Maleek Washington flew through “+1/-1” with athletic and reckless lines that revealed strength and grace. Jason Ignacio combined strong, clean arms with a beautifully expressive torso – his movements were deliberate, thoughtful and self-aware. Delphina Parenti cut strong and elongated profiles and exuded an arrestingly direct stage personality.
When the dancers did “Images” by Paul Taylor, the result was a piece that was characteristically Taylor-esque – with geometric sequences and recurring V-shapes of outstretched arms and legs – but with less homogeneity and a new verve. “Images” was a juxtaposition of movements strongly reminiscent of the ethnic and the balletic: the dancers strutted across the stage like Egyptian hieroglyphs, circled around a pagan god figure (Jason Ignacio) like supplicants, before breaking off into jetés and balancés. CityDance wove the incongruities of Paul Taylor’s original piece into the diversity of the range of its own dancers, turning difference into something celebratory and deeply precious.
“Last Look” by Paul Taylor, was a caution against the chaos that could unfold in a world without differences. As they rose out of a heap of bodies and were multiplied by mirrors, the dancers enacted a scene out of a psychiatric hell. Seized by debilitating tremors, they danced a splendid descent into madness.