Urban Bush Women + Yvonne Rainer & Group @ The Joyce
Under FOCUS Dance at The Joyce Theater (January 12) Urban Bush Women (UBW), under artistic director, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar returned, and they were fantastic! The UBW women performed in a version of Nora Chipaumire’s Dark Swan (originally a solo for Chipaumire), and in one word, they were HOT! The 2014 UBW women are: Maria Bauman, Amanda Castro, Courtney J. Cook, Chanon Judson, Tendayi Kuumba, Stephanie Mas, Samantha Speis, and Amber Renee Moore. Fabulously fitted in costumes by Omotayo Wunmi Olaiya, they moved smoothly in unison like divas, queens and technicians. In between darting legs and turns that sliced the air in record speed, they grabbed their crotch, breast or butts, or looked directly into the audience…daring us to look back. Kudos to Kuumba for her arresting vocals towards the end.
It was great to see Yvonne Rainer & Group on this same program with UBW. Rainer’s seriously stellar cast included Pat Catterson, Emily Coates, Patricia Hoffbauer, Emmanuelle Phuon and Keith Sabado. Rainer left us with a lot to think about in her well-crafted Assisted Living: Do You Have Any Money (2013) which mixes complicated patterns with heady text.
“The Gathering during APAP”
Camille A. Brown (her idea) with Baraka Sele, organized a tremendous meeting of Black Female Choreographers called “The Gathering” (some men and non-choreographers were also present) at City Center (January 12). This was an amazing time of connecting, sharing and hope. The very short list of those present includes Brenda Dixon-Gottschild, Nia Love, Makeda Roney, Dianne McIntryre, Nora Chipmaurie, Aziza, Ronald K. Brown, Nathan Trice, Matthew Rushing, Paloma McGregor, Omotayo Wunmi Olaiya, Shay Wafer, Renee Robinson and so many more! There are plans underway for keeping this connection alive, that’s good because as McIntyre said, “…in 1972, there would have been about four of us.”
Okwui Okpokwasaili – Bronx Gothic
Danspace Project presented Okwui Okpokwasaili’s Bronx Gothic (January 14 – this runs until February 1). Director, scenic and lighting designer Peter Born re-imagined the space —white fabric squared off a smaller space within the larger church space where the performance happens. Okpokwasaili begins before we enter the performance space—her back facing the audience breathing and shaking, shaking and breathing. We are seated in one L-shaped corner, while she and the set occupy the other (grass lamps, upright or fallen, a paper bag hanging and a sole microphone. Without attention to the audience, when it was time she begins a journey that mixes guttural sounds, undulating and convulsing body movement, songs and a story told by reading lost notes about two girls (one is Okpokwasaili) growing up and learning so many things… She begins “…I wanna share something with you.” The text is graphic, the delivery is honest and the result is really good.