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Taylor Gordon
Performance Reviews
Joyce Soho
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Misnomer Dance Theater - Live & On a Screen Near You

by Taylor Gordon
December 7, 2008
Joyce Soho
155 Mercer Street
New York, NY 10012

Misnomer Dance Theater is alive. So alive and in the times that they will produce a live performance webcast online on December 14 (see here) for the world to see. And yet their current season, "Being Together" at The Joyce Soho is very much an event to see in person.

Director Chris Elam and his dancers have subtle nuances in their movement – a twitch of a finger, a stare in the eyes – that are wonderfully magnified by the intimacy of this quaint theater. The tense strength in their legs, their energy connection to each other, the force of their breath, the thump of their weight – can these elements be retained on video?

Elam's piece, "Rock. Paper. Flock." epitomizes the nature of live theater. On Sunday evening, Elam entered to introduce himself in a grey jump suit with goggles and a pilot cap (later humorously termed his "choreographer's hat"). "Tonight I have a bit of a sore throat. But that's part of the excitement of live performance," he explained. As his dancers came out he explained that this piece was something of a live coaching session that differs every time (noting how much different would require multiple viewings…). He circumscribed the space, calling directions to the dancers who obeyed. It's something of a game of Simon Says, but certain sections are clearly choreographed consistently.

Though more of an exposure of studio experimentation, the piece evolved into an athletic, rough pas de trois for Elam, Coco Karol, and Luke Gutgsell. They intertwined elbows, tossed each other, and violently rolled across the marley. Karol was particularly engaging, in this and other parts of the evening.

Towards the end of the piece, Elam directed Dorian Nuskind-Oder to be cryptic and compelling. To act so the audience can "see all of humanness" in her. Then to be a series of abstract lines. And finally, to turn blue.

Such obscure requests garnered a laugh from the audience, but they seemed to be the basis of movement for Elam's other works on the program. "Too Late Tulip" was a calmer piece for five dancers in revolving relationships. "Zipper" was a darker, rather self-indulgent dance wonderfully accompanied live by the Real Quiet ensemble. Here Elam has a way of keeping action balanced with peace, as some dancers move inconspicuously far back while chaos comes to the foreground. Misnomer Dance Theater definitely has an edge worth checking out, if even from your own computer screen.
Brynne Billingsley, Luke Gutgsell (foreground), Coco Karol and Dorian Nuskind-Oder in 'Too Late Tulip'

Brynne Billingsley, Luke Gutgsell (foreground), Coco Karol and Dorian Nuskind-Oder in "Too Late Tulip"

Photo © & courtesy of ShaLeigh Comerford

Luke Gutgsell, Brynne Billingley and Jennifer C. Harmer in 'Too Late Tulip'

Luke Gutgsell, Brynne Billingley and Jennifer C. Harmer in "Too Late Tulip"

Photo © & courtesy of ShaLeigh Comerford

Coco Karol and Chris Elam in 'Rock.Paper.Flock'

Coco Karol and Chris Elam in "Rock.Paper.Flock"

Photo © & courtesy of ShaLeigh Comerford

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