John Jasperse’s new evening-length work Within between presented at New York Live Arts (May 28-31) welcomed otherness and the unfamiliar, and from the top of the show he invites the audience to be a part of this self-imposed investigation. Not a newcomer to this kind of questioning, he admits that the resolve “…takes shape through making dance.” And for Within between, his aim was to realize “…a creative space that could transcend this inside-outside binary, rendering a work both mine and not mine.” A very long pole, held by Simon Courchel, pokes into the audience, randomly taps a shoulder, frames a face and then moves to another victim. Courchel is then joined by Stuart Singer for a pole-balancing trio where each of the three dictates the next move. It’s all carefully timed. The set up screamed formal---lines on the floor, stripes running through their costumes, and all four dancers (Maggie Cloud, Courchel, Burr Johnson and Singer), like mannequins, incessantly repeating ballet phrases. Before long though, the formal-ness was disrupted, lines were smeared when these gorgeous dancers (who make contorted look so good), do away with the turnout; the familiar is gone. Everything turns inward, including their faces, and a stomping session pursues; they slap a thigh and clap their hands, having a good ol’ time—defiance? The costumes also change to an amalgam of floral prints to match the ever-changing soundscape. Jonathan Bepler with Mick Barr and Megan Schubert perfected “the other” with their many versions of clearing the throat, OMGs, more “valley girl” lingo and musical notes here and there. Jasperse is genius in the way he melds these different ideas, even some tunes from a marching band was part of his upsetting the norm.
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I am a performer, historian, consultant and dance writer. I am a Empire State College's online program Center for Distance Learning. I am also a former faculty member at The Ailey School and the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University dance major program, Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College (Guest), Kean University and The Joffrey Ballet School's Jazz and Contemporary Trainee Program. I write on dance for The Amsterdam News, Dance Magazine and various publications. Click below to read more about me at my home page - "About Me."