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Ezralow Dance's PRIMO PASSO reveals Ezralow's breadth as an artist

by Jessica Abrams
July 15, 2017
Wallis Annenberg Center
9390 N Santa Monica Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
(310) 246-3800
In those days of yore known as the Eighties, when pinstripes and the occasional splash of red lipstick punctuated the otherwise gray-suited landscape, a man named Daniel Ezralow was making dances. Influenced by his own stints in the companies of Paul Taylor, Pilobolus and Lar Lubovitch, Ezralow joined the ranks of choreographers like Bill T. Jones, Donald Byrd and Elisa Monte who were taking up where contemporary dance had left off, looking toward other, less academic vernaculars to create pieces that were reflections of a more complicated world while also presenting simpler alternatives.

In PRIMO PASSO, which his company Ezralow Dance performed July 13, 2017 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, Ezralow forged something of a stew of several of his signature pieces into one evening-length work that showed his range and breadth as an artist. In pieces such as “SUPER STRAIGHT is coming down” and “SF”, Ezralow revealed his Eighties roots (even if “SF” was created in 2004). In “SUPER STRAIGHT”, the dancers clad in business attire, emerged from plastic “cocoons” to break out into a pulsating, angular movement. The seven dancers – roughly half of which were men and half women – stuck together in a tight ensemble, with one lone dancer left out. As the group spun, jumped and plunged down to the ground, the other dancer’s movement became more frenzied, and soon dancers from the group were taking turns having this experience which had the feeling of being ousted from the group, from the norm and of ultimately, going crazy from the sheer sameness of the back-breaking routine.

In “SF”, dancers clad in suits bounced up and down like pogo sticks. In true Ezralow style, staccato, linear movement was mixed with languorous, lyrical moment. In each piece, a signature move emerged: in this case, dancers swept their arms forward while jumping and kicking a leg forward. Since his days rolling around on the dirty dance floors of the East Village, Ezralow has moved more into the mainstream, creating dances for the Sochi Olympics and collaborating with stars such as Katy Perry; and “SF”, with its synchronization and pulsating rhythm, harkened back to “Guys and Dolls” and “the Pajama Game” and was somewhat of an homage to a truly American, Broadway style. The sheer athleticism was astounding: at one point dancers landed in what could only be described as a yoga bridge, their upper bodies on the ground, their pelvises off it, and then worked their way to a standing position from there. With shows such as “So You Think You Can Dance”, a new era of sheer, gravity-defying athleticism has emerged, and Ezralow’s dancers, with their virtuosity and technical brilliance, did not disappoint.

“PULSE” provided a palate-cleansing respite from some of the harder-hitting pieces of the evening. Clad in sea-green, iridescent costumes, dancers ran and then literally slid across the stage, sometimes to land in embraces which took the form of lifts or just plain hugs. Like underwater sea creatures, the dancers danced together and separately, with a unique port de bras of rolling, circular motion that made for a beautiful coexistence that added a new and different texture to the evening.

Ezralow began the evening with a television set on stage. On it events from the Sixties and into the Eighties flashed before our eyes. His last piece, “CHROMA” brought the evening full circle with screens projecting television color bars as dancers, clad in casual athletic wear, representing all the colors of the rainbow romped on stage, at times behind the screens to emerge out from behind them into another dancer altogether. Here Ezralow pays homage to his Pilobolus roots – to the sheer fun of moving and playing and the power it has to unify us. In “CHROMA” we weren’t so much watching television as being active participants in the performers’ playtime.

PRIMO PASSO’S genius lay in the weaving together of different fabrics and textures, moods and tonalities. The evening was a symphony, with moments of exuberance mixed with moments of repose, moments of activity mingled with moments of stillness. It also gave audiences the chance to see how Ezralow’s work has both evolved to reflect the times and managed to remain altogether timeless, and to show that his movement, such a compendium of styles and influences, has come together in such a way as to stay true to the artist himself.
Dancers Re’Sean Pates (left) and Gerald Espinosa (right) perform Brothers.

Dancers Re’Sean Pates (left) and Gerald Espinosa (right) perform Brothers.

Photo © & courtesy of Dan Steinberg


Dancers Gerald Espinosa (left) and Re’Sean Pates (right) perform Brothers.

Dancers Gerald Espinosa (left) and Re’Sean Pates (right) perform Brothers.

Photo © & courtesy of Dan Steinberg


Dancers Kelsey Landers (left) and Junji Dezaki (right) perform Foreign Tails.

Dancers Kelsey Landers (left) and Junji Dezaki (right) perform Foreign Tails.

Photo © & courtesy of Dan Steinberg


Dancers Anthea Young (left) and Kelsey Landers (right) perform Foreign Tails.

Dancers Anthea Young (left) and Kelsey Landers (right) perform Foreign Tails.

Photo © & courtesy of Dan Steinberg


Dancers perform Super Straight is coming down.

Dancers perform Super Straight is coming down.

Photo © & courtesy of Dan Steinberg


Dancer Anthea Young performs the Awakening solo.

Dancer Anthea Young performs the Awakening solo.

Photo © & courtesy of Dan Steinberg


Dancers perform Pulse.

Dancers perform Pulse.

Photo © & courtesy of Dan Steinberg


Dancers perform Chroma.

Dancers perform Chroma.

Photo © & courtesy of Dan Steinberg

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