Tere O'Connor Dance.
Tere O'Connor Dance
Dance Theater Workshop, NYC * November 10-14, 2009
In the world of Tere O'Connor's Wrought Iron Fog, nothing has "meaning." From the moment the lights come up on the five dancers, the best viewing approach is to let go of any need for narrative or theme, sit back, and enjoy watching an hour of delicious movement. Never fear, it all makes sense.
And what a delight it is to let O'Connor and his collaborators, like Alice, lead you through Wonderland. For instance: A trio of two women and one man, facing downstage, step sideways across the stage from one side to the other then back repeatedly. Their feet slap the floor in syncopated rhythm like a heartbeat: thump-thump, thump-thump. In another sequence, the two men take turns twirling with their arms raised, hands clasped, as if spinning from the end of a tightly wound rope.
The ensemble of three women and two men are an odd-lot of body size, bookended by lanky Matthew Rogers and full-bodied Hilary Clark (who received a 2008 Bessie for her work as a performer with O'Connor). They all exude presence and maturity-trained dancers performing movement where virtuosity is not the point. When dancing in unison, the ensemble is crisp and tight. Individuals blend in and out of duos and trios. Entrances and exits are like a shoe dangling from a foot that never clunks to the floor.
One group section has the dancers each curling their limbs and torsos like flowering vines. The next is full of angles and diagonal lines. O'Connor's use of humor is subtle, eliciting chuckles as two women trill their fingers on a man's stomach, or when two men rise on demi-pointe, hands on hips, and strut like peacocks.
The musical score is as inventive as O'Connor's vocabulary. A soundscape by composer James Baker--with text from the Samuel Beckett novel How It Is--alternates everyday noises (traffic, bells) with words and music.
Near the end, all five dancers stand still, panting from the exertion. Erin Gerken turns to look upstage at Rogers, then charges, slamming into him. They fall to the ground and wrestle like animals--or maybe they're lovers--then exit the stage. The other dancers watch unconcerned.
It's a world of constant change as O'Connor moves from one vignette to the next without apparent relation. It's like riding the bus in a big city, where at each stop you see a different and novel neighborhood. At the end of the work, the dancers dripping wet, you only wish the ride would continue. Trey McIntyre Project