Stephen Petronio Company celebrated their 30th anniversary season (April 9) down the street from Trisha Brown Company (he was at the Joyce – she was at NYLA) – he was the first male to dance with her company 30+ years ago. The throw-back work for the evening, Strange Attractions Part I (1999) opened with Barrington Hinds swooping onto the stage with grand leaps, balances and fast head turns in true Petronio style; big, wild and fast. The others (Julian De Leon, Davalois Fearon, Josh D. Green, Natalie Mackessy, Jaqlin Medlock, Nicholas Sciscione and Jushua Tuason) soon joined, following suit, but the veteran Gino Grenek shone; he was hot. In a solo smack in the middle, he pummeled out fast feet, smooth and razor-like lines—breezing through this clearly difficult set of Petronio-esque moves. Strange Attractions is not new to Grenek; he was an original cast member, though not the first to perform this solo. The other group work and premiere, Locomotor is all about moving in many directions, especially backwards, and doing it well. Maybe the manipulated movement phrase construct is reminiscent of his time with Brown (her Solo Olos, for example), but the Petronio Company made this their own. Hip-hop experimentalist Michael Volpe’s (aka Clams Casino) very cool score matched the speed and intensity of the dancers’ fast and furious runs, contact partnering, heaving lifting male duet, peppered by pauses here and there. Melissa Toogood was a guest performer. It was a treat to celebrate thirty years with the premiere of Petronio’s solo, Stripped set to “Etude No. 5” by Philip Glass with “costume intervention” by Janine Antoni. He begins lounging against the proscenium (to cheers from the crowd) in a headdress made of looped ties, a black suit, white shirt and a single tie around his neck which he takes his time to loosen (a strip tease?). Still taking his time, he slithers center stage folding and unfolding in a series voluminous shape-shifting poses, he eventually unravels his headdress with help from an audience member and someone from the wings, and ends by taking off his tie and unbuttoning his shirt. Nice! Not to be forgotten is Ken Tabachnick, Petronio’s long-time lighting designer who always gets it right.
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I am a performer, historian, consultant and dance writer. I am a faculty member at Hunter College, Sarah Lawrence College (Guest), Empire State College's online program Center for Distance Learning. I am also a former faculty member of The Ailey School and the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University dance major program, 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."