Above: production photo from Amanda Selwyn's RENEWAL by Christopher Duggan
Friday March 13th, 2015 - Celebrating their 15th anniversary, Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre presenting an evening-length work entitled RENEWAL down at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. As I have come to expect from Ms. Selwyn's presentations, it was a well-crafted, finely-lit, and beautifully danced production.
Drawing from past works, Amanda Selwyn's RENEWAL is both a retrospective and a cohesive look at where she and her Company are at the moment. By presenting a series of sixteen 'short subjects', the evening keeps us constantly engrossed in the movement, enhanced by the individual attractiveness and commitment of the dancers. Ms. Selwyn's choreography blends athleticism, theatricality, sensuality, romance, passion, and humor in good measure, and a collage of well-chosen music underscores the swings of mood and gives the production a cohesive feeling.
Each of RENEWAL's segments has a sub-title: the evening opens with Five Fingers, where six dancers pose, sway, and dance in sync before breaking out in individual moves. Drag and Drop begins in silence, a man manipulating a rag-doll woman while four other girls dance in the foreground.
We then begin to meet the dancers as individuals, commencing with a powerful solo Building, performed in a pathway of light by Sarah Starkweather. Displaying intense concentration and a compelling presence, Ms. Starkweather moves back and forth across the space as if searching for something. She is so close to us that we can feel her palpable sense of quiet urgency. Torrey McAnena and Adam Robert Dickerson then dance a duet of sexy surrender in Reflect, an adagio set to cello and piano. A small ice-globe/candle glows on a table as Emily Pacilio appears, moving along shifting paths of light in Dream. Randall Smith then appears, drawing Ms. Pacilio into a duet that is both sensuous and somewhat ominous: this is Interlude. Dancers bearing more ice-candles then dance in-sync in support of Ms. Pacilio's solo, Echo.
A major shift in dynamic comes next with Clockwork: in colorful costumes, Torrey McAnena, Sarah Starkweather, Adam Robert Dickerson, and Randall Smith are seen in a circular pool of bright light. To jazzy music, they look sculptural in this limited space. Expanding the movement outward, the face of a clock is illuminated on the floor. Checkerboard squares of light glow as Ms. McAnena and Mr. Smith begin a duet On The Board; they are joined by Emily Pacilio and Sarah Buscaino...and then the partnerings shift and two women become the central figures.
A Chinese-sounding melody opens Face Off, which begins with a triple pas de deux. The women dance, and then the men, to an expansive, insistent big beat. The dancers pose in patches of light for Moving Squares before exploring larger moves; a female duet ensues and again the beat turns big and steady.
The sound of a cold wind and the re-appearance of the ice-lites set the mood for Boxed In which evolves into a pair of male solos: Randall Smith and Adam Robert Dickerson, their expressive bodies beautifully illuminated, move in their own spheres to the sound of a ticking clock. In Retreat, Mr. Smith continues a solo dance, lithe and sinuous, as the ensemble provide a ritualistic setting. Fall and Get Up commences to pulsating music: there's a duet for two men, a man and a woman fighting, and two women exploring a possible relationship.
Torry McAnena performs an impressive solo in Reverb; to the music of piano and strings, Torrey moves along varying illuminated pathways. Her solo, so finely danced, is filled with an atmosphere of slow seeking. And then suddenly we have reached the end: in Stop Look Listen, the sounds of wind and water and Afro-flavoured rhythms draw the dancers into a celebratory state. The evening has zoomed by, having taken us on a voyage of moods. Kudos to Ms. Selwyn, her tech artists, and most especially to the dancers who brought it all to life.