‘Focus Dance’ at Joyce Theater
Rarely can dance lovers get to more than one performance a week and even less often do they have a chance to see two choreographers’ work on one program. How terrific then that the Joyce Theater is presenting “Focus Dance” Jan. 8-13. Part of a weeklong series of performances organized by the Gotham Arts Exchange to coincide with APAP/New York, the annual meeting of American and international performing arts presenters, it will offer four programs with two choreographers each night. The impressive lineup includes Stephen Petronio Company and Jodi Melnick, Brian Brooks Moving Company and Camille A. Brown and Dancers, Doug Varone and Dancers and Rosie Herrera Dance Theater and the duo Eiko and Koma and John Jasperse.
“We included emerging and established artists in our programs,” says the curator Jodee Nimerichter, director of the American Dance Festival, “to give a broad representation. Many presenters can’t afford to travel extensively to look at work. At the Joyce they’ll see a lot and the choreographers will have the advantage of good production values, which they don’t have at most APAP showcases.”
The artists couldn’t be happier with the arrangement. “It’s not only great for exposure,” says Petronio, who will be presenting excerpts from his moving “Architecture of Loss” and “Underland,” and a section of his dramatic new project “Like Lazarus Did.” “It’s great to join forces with other choreographers.” Brooks shares his view. “As choreographers, we can often feel isolated,” he says. “This kind of interaction is wonderful for us.” He plans on offering high-velocity solos, plus the intense “Descent.”
“I like being part of a larger vision,” Varone says. “It changes our perceptions and perhaps those of audiences too.” His program features his popular “Lux” to a score by Philip Glass and the duet “Able to Leap Tall Buildings,” set to music by Julia Wolfe. The latter grew out of his work in health-care centers. He asked a young boy with cancer to create stories with action figures that he would like to see danced. “Some of the movements are quite stilted,” he says. “The piece is harrowing.”
Probably the most surprising choreographers in the series are the Butoh-trained couple Eiko and Koma, as their work is usually evening-length and often takes place in museums and site-specific locations. They plan to perform a premiere, “Flower,” and a version of “White Dance,” from 1976. Set to Bach and medieval European music, it shows them at their most appealingly humorous and philosophical. “The festival format inspired us to be mischievous,” she says. They will also be performing at MoMA Jan. 16-22.