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Robert Abrams
Performance Reviews
The Duke Theatre
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Notario Dance Company

by Robert Abrams
July 26, 2003
The Duke Theatre
229 West 42nd Street
New York, NY 10036

Notario Dance Company


Robert Abrams
July 26, 2003

The Notario Dance Company presented eight short works plus an opening sequence at the Duke on 42nd Street. Brook Notary, the choreographer (See the interview with Brook), has drawn on her experience with circus arts, modern dance, rhythmic gymnastics and martial arts to create innovative and entertaining dances. While many of the dances rely on a gimmick, she doesn't let the gimmicks overwhelm the dances. Her dances often have a family resemblance to Momix, but writ small. She consistently choreographed, and her dancers consistently presented, the fantastic on a human scale.

Here are a few highlights. The dances presented included walking floor lamps with working switches, hooped stretch material, live singers, Commedia del Arte-esque masks, poles that extended the dancers arms, malleable fabric disks, dancers suspended from the rafters on aerial lines, and the artistic use of a large amount of flour.

Here are a few aspects of the choreography I particularly liked. There was very effective stretch and compression of lines of dancers across the space. The use of the poles strapped to the dancers' hands simultaneously created an elongated line paired with shuffling movement. The dancers used the poles to move through the air in ways that would not have been possible otherwise. Essentially, the use of the poles traded flight for awkward movement on the ground. One of these works used only dancers with poles, while the other combined pole dancers and poleless dancers. Clearly, Ms. Notary is making good and continuing use of her fundamental choreographic concepts. I especially liked the use of the white fabric disk, which started out as a pod, became a cape, sometimes wings, and at several points suggested nothing less than a giant pizza dough being twirled over the dancer's head. This dance, especially, made Ms. Notary's experience with rhythmic gymnastics clear. One work, Talking, incorporated drumming into the dance with some stylistic elements similar to Taiko. Their passion both for and coming from the drum was clear.

The final work, Traces, combined sound and movement in compelling ways. The floor was covered with what at the time I thought was sand (it later turned out to be flour), so as the dancers moved across the floor, they made scraping sounds. The sound of their feet was complemented by heavy exhaling. Their movements kicked the flour up into the air. If you imagined that the flour was ashes, it looked a little like a funeral. There was a flour sifter device suspended in the middle of the stage. Periodically, a dancer would stand under it and pull a cord, releasing a shower of flour into her hair and body, which would then be cast this way and that as she danced. I got the distinct impression that this is what bread feels like as it is being made.

The dancers were all talented, including but not limited to some nice isolations. The program was well curated with a mix of styles. Ms. Notary and the Notario Dance Company are a refreshing wellspring of creativity that audiences should watch out for in the future.

Notario Dance Company - Manta Ray
Photo courtesy of Brook Notary

Notario Dance Company - Traces
Photo courtesy of Brook Notary

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