Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Physiology from top to toe

STEPHEN PETRONIO COMPANY
Bud Suite/BLOOM/The Rite Part
Friday, February 16
Power Center

Stephen Petronio really likes his développés. Not that this is a bad thing--his dancers can reel off perfect ones like they're like falling off a Balanchine-shaped log--but the choreography in general was much more ballet-focused than I was expecting. I spotted something that looked suspiciously like a brisé volé and a bunch of near-grand jetés. The opening duet of Bud Suite was gorgeous and so savvily, wittily exploitative of the unmined diamond deposit that is male-male partnering I was surprised Matthew Bourne wasn't somehow involved.

Watching any kind of live dance done to Rite of Spring is always nifty, but I liked the first half of the program best, content-wise as well as costume-wise. The white dress shirts in BLOOM were lovely on everyone, men and women both, even if the long sleeves had the unfortunate effect of making the port de bras all but invisible. And somehow, Subkoff made the deconstructed black dinner jacket/red hot pants combo work.

As well-integrated as the Rufus Wainwright songs were into each piece, I wonder whether it's generally a good idea to soundtrack choreography this articulate, this dramatically vocal, to pop songs or songs with lyrics. It creates too much of an opportunity for the lyrics to overpower the language of the dancers' bodies. Things get even trickier when you try to shoehorn in, as Wainwright does in BLOOM, the poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson. He succeeds, I think, but it all feels rather busy and redundant, since the creative movement broadcasts so much poetry already. How appropriate that Dickinson's "Hope Is The Thing With Feathers" should show up here; it's not hope that "sings the tune without the words," but dance.

[Cheers to whoever decided to shoot the entire company mid-pogo for the Bud Suite etc. promo package. And to MAKING SWEET POTATOES.]

3 comments:

Todd Colby said...

I saw SP here in NYC at the Joyce last spring and I found myself also somewhat distracted by the Wainwright lyricism/SP choreography. It created an odd sense of dissonance that wasn't what I wanted, being a fan of both.

Nice review by the way.

Lizzie said...

I like them both, too. It's weird that putting them together makes it harder to enjoy each one, but I think that's what it does. Thanks for the comment!

Todd Colby said...

Not sure if William Forsyth's company is coming to Chicago but we just saw his brilliant Three Atmospheric Studies at Brooklyn Academy of Music. It is political and theatrical in just the right measure. He's always worked with the most highly disciplined dancers and creates a very startling environment both sonically and physically. The soundscape in particular really adds a punch. The dancers use mics that have been lowered or altered in pitch to give a creepy authoritarian tone that's really effective. At one point they sound like those growling death metal singers, but far better and craftier. I'm rambling. I won't even get into the politics of the piece on this little box. See it if you can.