Thursday April 26, 2012 - It's always a great pleasure to visit Jennifer Muller and her dancers at her unique studio space on West 24th Street. This afternoon I was invited to watch a rehearsal of LOVERS, a 1978 work that Jennifer is reviving. I asked photographer Brian Krontz to meet me at the studio; above, two of the excellent dancers of Jennifer Muller/the Works: Jen Peters and Duane Gosa.
Inspired by the paintings of Gustave Klimt, LOVERS presents a series of four duets which trace the development of a single relationship: infatuation, lust, trust, and finally deep and committed love. The score is by Keith Jarrett. Those are the facts, but the back-story about the evolution of the piece as Jennifer related it to me is fascinating.
She had commissioned a score from Keith Jarrett; she had the dancework completed but the composer wasn't sending her any music. He told her he wanted to see what she'd created so it was arranged that the dancers would run thru the entire piece while Keith improvised at the piano. The session was recorded and - miraculously - Jennifer had her score in one fell swoop. And what a great score it is, bursting with colour and rhythmic vitality.
Observing the rehearsal today, I could see how inspired Keith Jarrett must have been watching this choreography: the movement is spectacular, the partnering uncanny in its pacing and physicality. To be honest, I've seldom felt so blown away by the sheer dynamics of dance partnering: dancing at high-speed with incredible lifts and swirling motifs across the floor woven in, there's no room for even the slightest error. The dancers of Jennifer Muller/The Works have mastered her complex and ultra-demanding choreography and the result is truly breath-taking.
One of the best things about watching a studio rehearsal at Jennifer's is: the dancers go into full-performance mode. They fling themselves full-tilt into the choreography and immerse themselves in their characters, producing the same dramatic energy you'd experience in the theater: only here they are just inches away. Unfettered by any thought of restraint, these dancers - some of Gotham's most fascinating movers - give the viewer a sense of exhilaration.
With an eye to upcoming performances, the duets have been double- or even triple-cast. Once I saw the complexity of the partnering I could thoroughly appreciate the energy and dedication the dancers have put into learning this work.
Buddy Valdez and Olivia Jordan (above) opened the rehearsal with a joyously expressive duet celebrating the discovery of mutual attraction; ardently flirtatious, the dancers frequently open their arms in expansive gestures that indicate their love knows no bounds. The ecstatic energy of the piece was beautifully caught by the two youthful and attractive dancers, while the choreography covered the space with the restless, questing movement. I was hooked on LOVERS within seconds.
Olivia and Buddy, above. The rehearsal moved on, with various partnerships evolving from one duet to the next. The Jarrett score constantly matched the dance nuance for nuance, quite amazing considering the spontaniety of its creation.
Here are some of Brian's images from this series of duets:
Seiko Fugita and Eric Williams
Gen Hashimoto and Seiko Fugita
Gen and Seiko
Chellamar Bernard and Seiko Fugita
Chellamar and Seiko
Seiko and Chellamar
Duane Gosa and Jen Peters
Duane and Jen
Caroline Kehoe and Pascal Rekoert
Pascal and Caroline
Pascal and Caroline
LOVERS will be performed at the Katsbaan International Dance Center on May 5th, and will be in Jennifer Muller/The Works repertoire for the 2012-2013 season. I look forward to seeing (and hearing) it again.
All photos by Brian Krontz. Click on the individual images to enhance.