Friday May 16, 2008 - After seeing their working rehearsal a couple weeks ago, it was to see the finished products that I went to Takehiro Ueyama's TAKE Dance at the Miller Theatre tonight. My friend Tonya went with me and by the end of the opening work, LOOKING FOR WATER, she was a TAKE Dance convert. Despite horrible weather a good-sized crowd expressed unbridled enthusiasm for Take and his dancers.
LOOKING FOR WATER was breath-taking. Take chose a really imaginative score by Damian Eckstein as the basis for this piece which benefited from lighting against a black backdrop which opens to scarlet-red. The seven dancers, all clad in gauzy white skirts, blend a somewhat stylized movement with ritualistic gestures and passages of expansive lyricism. Kile Hotchkiss and John Eirich (photo) reminded me of iconic figures out of ancient Egypt. The women's dances sometimes have a feeling of tribal rites. Take uses moments of stillness to telling effect. The piece held the audience spellbound and they responded with a whooping ovation for the dancers, the first of many in the course of the evening.
Kile Hotchkiss and Nana Tsuda danced LOVE STORIES, the series of three duets that I found so intriguing when I attended the working rehearsal. Using film music, Take shows the couple at three stages of a relationship: at first passionate, then more detached and finally (faces shrouded in masks) they seem to have reached the end. Nana wears a beautiful scarlet dress and Kile starts out in black trousers and an open white shirt. For the second duet, they begin seated back-to-back in folding chairs. Kile has added a tie. Communication seems to be breaking down and Nana shows signs of distress. Masked, and with Kile now in a suit jacket, they continue together but seem alienated. The work ends with a sense of loss as Kile collapses onto the floor, motionless. Nana removes Kile's mask. And then her own. They are a compelling and physically appealing couple to watch.
LINKED (Philip Echo photo) was a work-in-progress when I saw it in rehearsal. To the music of Pat Metheny, LINKED opens with a quartet danced by Amy Young, James Samson, Jill Echo and Take (photos above). They all are or have been Paul Taylor Dancers; Taylor's influence can be felt in Take's choreography and perhaps quite strongly in the free-wheeling come-and-go style of this section. Then silence falls as more dancers join the original four in a dance without music. The audience seemed quite taken with this aspect of the piece. The movement slowed down and was often in unison. You could hear the dancers breathing.
Take now builds his finale on a driving Metheny beat; the dancers swirl across the stage and fling themselves into fast-paced combinations. Here Elise Drew really caught the eye with her full-out and fearless style; Andy LeBeau (another Taylor vet) joined Take and James as the relentless flow of energy increased exponentially and the work raced to its climax: everyone fell to the floor.
Take's solo, HUELLA was choreographed for him by Asun Noales. In black trousers and a soft white top, Take danced in squares of light cast on the floor from above. At first lively (music by J.S. Bach) the work became more austere as the familiar aria '"Ombra mai fu" from Handel's SERSE slowed the pace and we were able to experience the expressive beauty of Take's personal style: smooth, fluid movement coursing thru the body.
A note about choreographer Asun Noales: born in Elx, Spain, Noales is a dancer, choreographer and co-artistic director of the company Patas Arriba. She trained in classical ballet, modern and classical Spanish dance at the Conservatorio Superior de Musica y Danza Oscar Espla de Alicante. She has presented work at numerous venues throughout Spain, and has been honored at several international festivals and choreography competitions, including a third-place finish at the Choreography Competition in Burgos.
ONE was the concluding work on the programme. Normally I wouldn't favor combining such an assortment of music as Takemitsu, Bach and Barber in a single dance work but Take made it seem all of a piece and completely natural. In the third movement, to music by Lisa Gerrard and Patrick Cassidy, there was a wonderful sense of stillness.
Take's eye for choosing dancers paid off in this large work where Kate Hirstein, Kristen Arnold and Sharon Park each brought her own personal 'look' to the piece, while the very tall Milan Misko executed sustained headstands with uncanny control and later he and Kile loomed over the girls as the dance progressed. Using the thrice-familiar Barber Adagio for Strings gives ONE a strong conclusion. Not relying simply on the melodic flow of the work, Take transformed one passage into a sort of stomping ritual. Kile lifted his index finger to his lips in the classic silencing gesture, later adapted by all the dancers as they raised their hands indicating: one.
The crowd poured out into the lobby but no one wanted to leave. A sort of party atmosphere took over as Take and his dancers came out to mingle and so we were able to meet and thank the dancers in a relaxed atmosphere. This is a really nice gesture on the part of the Company. They all seemed elated and exhausted. Take was in an expansive mood and I asked him if there was any possibility of having FOOTSTEPS IN THE SNOW, the work he created for the New School performance, enter TAKE Dance's repertoire and he said that was his plan. We enjoyed meeting up with Sophie Bromberg and her mom; Sophie is the girl who "introduced" me to TAKE Dance and she's just landed a job supering in ABT's upcoming CORSAIRE. Kate Hirstein told me about her upcoming performances with Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company and I put those dates on my calendar since I want to keep track of Kate for sure. Elise expressed the hope that we hadn't found the programme too long at which Tonya and I exchanged smiles since we both had been wishing it had been longer and we were both reluctant to leave. Tonya was trying to think of a way she could get back for another performance on Saturday while I was eying the great TAKE t-shirt that Take was wearing: I have ordered one as a birthday gift...for myself.
UPDATE: Taylor Gordon covers the performance (with more photos) here.