Zenon displays energy, variety

  • Article by: CAROLINE PALMER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 21, 2011 - 9:17 AM

REVIEW: Dancers range from explosive to calm in the world premiere of Daniel Charon's "Storm" at the Cowles Center.


From left, Zenon members Tamara Ober, Stephen Schroeder, Laura Selle Vitrucio, Leslie O’Neill, and Mary Ann Bradley rehearsed “Storm.”

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

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The members of Zenon Dance Company have proven their versatility time and again, but the 29-year-old troupe's season at the Cowles Center may be one of their most diverse and enjoyable yet. The program is filled with everything from fearless modern dance to cocktail-hour panache.

New York's Daniel Charon, originally from Moorhead, Minn., shares his bold perspective in the world premiere of "Storm," set to music by Michael Nyman. Much of the work is focused on the mechanics of explosive motion. Charon exhibits the sort of choreographic greediness that should be encouraged -- the six dancers consume the space around them. But his strong sense of precision balances out the wildest impulses that could spiral "Storm" out of control. It's as if Charon is trying to trap lightning in a bottle. Often, he succeeds.

As the title suggests, this work is tumultuous but it also has lulls. Mary Ann Bradley and Stephen Schroeder slowly tumble over each other, showing the palms of their hands, displaying vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, Leslie O'Neill and Laura Selle Virtucio engage in tense shoving and tossing. These duets intersect and swirl around, but never interrupt, one another. It's these contrasting moments that give "Storm" its powerful resonance. We need calm to fully appreciate fury.

Mariusz Olszewski recently traveled to his native Poland to choreograph the Polish versions of "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Dancing with the Stars." With the world premiere of the fizzy "Pink Martini," he mambos the Zenon members right out of their comfort zones, but they readily embrace their inner ballroom dancers. Some even don sequins.

Scott Mettille, for one, just can't seem to get enough of the swiveling hips in Latin dance styles. He and O'Neill share an especially playful chemistry.

Olszewski uses familiar ballroom conventions, but he also throws in some surprises. In one section the white-jacketed Tristan Koepke, Gregory Waletski, Schroeder and Mettille partner only each other. And the high-flying lifts are both acrobatic and comical at times. Olszewski celebrates, and pokes fun at, a dance form he knows so well.

The program also includes Morgan Thorson's endlessly delightful "Deluxe Edition" (2010), a smart commentary on body consciousness, plus a high-energy interpretation of Danny Buraczeski's "Swing Concerto" (1993), one of the definitive works in contemporary jazz history.


    What: 29th fall season

    When: 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 7 p.m. Sun. Ends Nov. 27.

    Where: The Cowles Center, 528 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.

    Tickets: $30 plus $4 fee, 612-206-3600, thecowlescenter.org

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