Cassandra (1996) is a dynamite solo for Romina Pedroli, a beautiful, long-limbed, dark-haired lass, a dancer of extraordinary strength, boldness, and nuance. To the repeated lyrics, "Ever dance with the devil?" and wearing black velour pants and a see-through top, Pedroli obsessively and ominously runs her double-jointed finger around her rump, twists her long black tendrils, and arches onto the floor, violently slamming her back onto the surface again and again--Shapiro's own prophetess of disaster. The dance is set to Erik Friedlander's splendid, surging music for cello, guitar, and saxophone, variously jazzy, spooky, and lyrical.
In the 1991 Silent Night (music arranged by England's Choir of York-Minster) Pedroli is more maidenly. Hair pulled into a bun, wearing a blue dress, cantilevered forward at ninety degrees in releve and held at the hips by Matthew Brookoff, Pedroli and her partner make their gawky way through the space. They end on the floor; as the choir sings, "Christ the saviour is born," Brookoff watches Pedroli backstroke away from him--an erotic angel, the Virgin Mary, or both, swimming toward Bethlehem.
In Mother's Garden (1993) a broken swing dangles at one side of the stage. To the piercingly beautiful The Unanswered Question, by Charles Ives, Pedroli, this time in a flowered dress, legs spread wide, hands crossed and fluttering at her neck, rolls about in her white schoolgirl cotton pants, a tortured Isadora trying in vain to dance happily in Eve's garden of long ago.
Gehenna, also made in 1996, is set to Miktav, composed by John Zorn and performed by Masada. The title refers to a ravine near Jerusalem that was considered an entrance to the underworld, a place where the wicked were tormented after death. Here, the bare-chested Marlon Barrios travels in hip-rippling movements, caresses his nipples, and eventually flips onto his back like a sweaty fish.
For the 1995 Charades the soundtrack, Truth about Women, parts 1 and 2, written by Joe Frank for National Public Radio, is comprised of monologues by women describing their failed relationships with men in tales of fetishes, impotence, and sexual anguish. Against this sonic backdrop, two men, Barrios and Niles Ford, dance spastically, weirdly--at one point, Ford sits astride Barrios lying on the floor, each man squeezing the other's lips--a kind of aggrieved, private ballroom dance.
Intrigued by the Biblical, the mythical, and the archetypal, Shapiro works her visions brilliantly in unusual imagery, the nightmarish quality leavened by a fine use of music and a small cadre of exotic and powerful performers. She's one of the most exciting new choreographers
I've seen in the last decade.
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|Title Annotation:||Bessie Schonberg Theater, New York, New York|
|Article Type:||Dance Review|
|Date:||Mar 1, 1997|
|Previous Article:||Yuragi: In a Space of Perpetual Motion.|
|A Black Burlesque.|
|Joe Chvala and the Flying Foot Forum.|
|Danial Shapiro and Joanie Smith.|
|Body of Work.|
|Two or Three Things I See in You.|
|Doug Elkins Dance Company.|