Above: dancers Gen Hashimoto and Seiko Fujita of Jennifer Muller/The Works. Click on this Brian Krontz photo to enlarge.
Thursday February 14, 2013 - It's been a while since I was last at Jennifer Muller's loft-like studio on West 24th Street, so I was very happy to receive an invitation to this evening's open house. Jennifer is not only a favorite choreographer of mine, but also one of my favorite personalities.
For this Valentine's Day private event, sub-titled In The Mood, excerpts from eight of Jennifer's vast repertoire of danceworks were presented: LOVERS, EDGE, HYMN FOR HER, THE WHITE ROOM, FLOWERS, MOON, THE SPOTTED OWL, and ISLAND. More than half of this rep were pieces brand new to me. Woven into a well-paced suite, interspersed with Jennifer's brief and truly illuminating comments about each work, the excerpts showed her wide range of musical and theatrical choices. Of particular note were the passionate duet from HYMN FOR HER and the witty spoken 'libretto' for THE SPOTTED OWL excerpt: an ironic commentary on love by those for whom a Valentine box of Godiva chocolates simply doesn't cut it.
However brilliant and imaginative a choreographer's language might be, it takes the clarity, technique and commitment of the dancers to make it speak to us, and Jennifer has a truly splendid troupe of artists at her command: Rosie Lani Fiedelman, Seiko Fujita, Katherine Hozier, Caroline Kehoe, Duane Gosa, Gen Hashimoto, Michael Tomlinson and apprentice Kensako Shinohara all danced with generous passion and compelling beauty, both as individuals and as a collective. It's so exciting to watch this kind of dancing...and at such close range.
As the programme was nearing its end, a technical malfunction suddenly caused the music to cease; Jennifer began to sing, and the dancers carried on undaunted. On top of everything else, Jennifer Muller has a really good voice.
Now in her 38th year of creating and presenting dance, Jennifer Muller holds a unique place on the Gotham dance scene as well as internationally, where her works have been seen in 39 countries. Her training and outreach programmes here in the City and across the USA involve thousands of dance students and young choreographers annually.
In June 2013 Jennifer Muller/The Works will present their season at New York Live Arts in Chelsea. Details will be forthcoming.