The three premiere works commissioned for Zenon Dance Company's spring concert showcase an exciting new level of emotional and physical intensity from the members of the 28-year-old troupe. All are standout efforts, but New Yorker Kyle Abraham's contribution offers up a particularly potent brew of movement moods and styles.
Bessie Award-winning Abraham is one of today's most sought-after young choreographers, and Zenon did well to land this talent in its studio. "My Quarreling Heart," created in collaboration with the company, is a masterful kinetic mix-tape of influences from modern dance to hip hop and even a hint of moshing. The work showcases Abraham's distinctive flair for deconstructing the familiar, often at a fast yet fluid pace, to uncover layer upon layer of new possibilities.
"Quarreling" seethes with near-anarchy as the performers dance along the jagged edges of control. The movement manifests itself through energetic space-slicing bursts followed with more contained gestural moments, complemented by an industrial musical collage from Ben Frost and Pan Sonic that has an occasional Nine Inch Nails quality to it. Each dancer delivers the right sort of nuanced aggression. They are passionate, damaged, angry, righteous -- and full of raucous life.
The duet "Before After" from Uri Sands of TU Dance delves into another sort of passion. Mary Ann Bradley and Stephen Schroeder are beautifully suited as lovers parting; they surround one another with swirling, grasping, all-encompassing turns, holds and spins. In the second half, Sands is just as adamant in capturing the rapture of reconnection. This piece is a quietly intimate journey through love's tests, set to songs by Bon Iver and Kid Cudie. Leslie O'Neill and Bryan Godbout perform the work next weekend.
"My Very Empty Mouth," the second duet of the evening, was choreographed by Wynn Fricke in collaboration with Tamara Ober and Laura Selle Virtucio. It's hard to imagine two better dancers to balance the work's delicacy and strength. Ober and Virtucio move like shadows or twins, feeding off one another's pulsating energy and David Lang's spiky musical composition. The pair also acknowledge Fricke's sculptural sensibility through the muscular fullness of their movements.
Rounding out the program is Sydney Skybetter's lovely yet sobering "The Laws of Falling Bodies" and Danny Buraczeski's rollicking Jelly Roll Morton celebration "Elegant Echoes."
Caroline Palmer writes regularly about dance.