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Photo by Jubal Battisti

This week at Dance Theater Workshop features two new works by Andrea Miller and Sidra Bell. I love Dance Theater Workshop because it supports artists in doing anything and everything in an intimate setting. When I go to DTW I know there is the potential to see amazing, fresh things (on minimal budgets) that are unique to the space. Andrea Miller’s For Glenn Gould used the venue to its full capacity to produce an incredible impact on the audience. That being said, the dancers did things that only belong in DTW. In any other venue, the honesty found in the work would not be the same. For Glenn Gould is personal, powerful, and provocative, taking the audience on an intimate exploration of the performers’ emotions as they investigate and play in their bodies, surroundings, and art.

The piece opened to Bach’s Goldberg Variations with the dancers clothed only in underwear and dance belts . The play between ballet vocabulary and more unnatural movements combined with the classical piano and contrast of nude figures against the black wall set a captivating tone. Miller’s style constantly pushes physical limits and the emotions that arise from them. Different from the distortion of the body in ballet, the distortion of the dancers’ bodies looks dangerously grotesque. Yet, I find this equally beautiful to watch. The artists are exposing themselves entirely- both physically and emotionally. It’s suspenseful and truthful.

For Glenn Gould is ultimately a depiction of the unsettlement an artist faces in a messy, mixed-up transition phase. Each dancer has a moment to explore this for her/himself, in which their individuality is marked but not disengaged from the entirety of the piece. The transition section of the piece is awkward, obscure, and slightly disturbing. Afterwards, it comes to an honest resolution in which it is clear that something major has happened, but you are not sure what. All you know is it is completely different. Any order is gone and the sentiment is more lonely.

An interesting juxtaposition existed seeing Andrea Miller’s and Sidra Bell’s pieces together in that they had very different moods and qualities. Sidra Bell’s Pool did not quite live up to its provocative program notes, nor was it as well assembled as her work I’ve seen before. It felt unintentionally chaotic with an unclear direction. Pool fit the futuristic-black pleather-ecstacy trip-techno-rave-face paint trend that, frankly, I wish would end. While the lighting and use of special effects was striking, I felt all the extra elements detracted from the dancing. The dancers were strong and acrobatic, but despite their uninterrupted dedication, I did not feel a strong unity between them. The exception to this was the duets between two men- I could have watched their dynamics for the entire 41 minutes.

GALLIM DANCE/Sidra Bell Dance New York will be at DTW through Saturday.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Stephanie

    Nicole, I couldn’t agree with you more. I found Miller’s work stunning and intriguing. Yet, if I were asked to describe exactly why “For Glenn Gould” appealed to me so much, I don’t believe I would be capable of picking the correct words. The dancers’ abilities blew me away; they are species of their own kind. Every movement was light and agile, as well as being completely grounded. There were moments of sudden suspension, which made me gasp out loud. At the same time, my enthrallment was tinged with slight discomfort. Miller’s work can make one fidget in his or her seat, but I mean this in the best kind of way. LOVE for Gallim!

    However, I felt disappointed in Sidra Bell’s “Pool.” This was my first time seeing her work and my expectations were high. There is no dispute about how talented her dancers are. Each one is individually strong and supple. But, Bell lost me within the first few minutes of the bombastic sounds of house music – I’ve never been a fan. I agree with you, I’m ready for this techno-driven, ‘dance is sexy’ craze it be done with! The costumes were distracting. Especially, the eyelashes, which I spent half of the piece trying to discern how they were worn. There was a bit of redemption in the final minutes. I thought the movement, lighting, and dancing came together beautifully during that last male duet. Though, I’m not sure if the fact that those moments existed in silence didn’t aid in my enjoyment.

    Well done review!

  • candice

    I am so bummed I missed this last night–I went to DTW and was turned away because they sold out. On a Wednesday night! This review makes me want to see it more because I have a small obsession with Glenn Gould and Goldberg Variations, and it seems you two are in consensus that Miller had a strong and interesting piece to that music.

  • Stephanie

    Go for sure!

  • Lawrence2001

    I’m sorry to have to say that whatever you were watching in that third grade piece of choreography from the gallim company was to me about the level of a cool ny dance piece (I actually sat through that dance travesty a few times)….the gallim piece was a horrible amateurish mess hiding under the guise of dance…i don’t know where this amateur choreographer gets her reputation from but as a lover of dance for many years, i was disgusted by the total lack of vision in this piece of trash, no watchable dance except for a few moments when she allowed her victims to actually show that they can dance…the piece opened with some promising choreography and then just stopped…the rest of this mess could have been my neighbor’s child emptying out my closets of all the junk I’ve accumulated over the years, spreading it out in my hallway and then playing with it like a moron…if playing with odd pieces of trash…running around the stage and having female dancers look like they were giving head to the male dancers and dropping chairs on the floor is the ultimate state of what all of you believe the dance world has risen to then we have reached the end of any hope in developing new and meaningful choreography….i think the nyc dance audience has lost its collective minds supporting “non-dance” crap like this…no wonder the dance audience has dwindled to the minute state it’s in…at least the second piece from choreographer bell showed great promise in it’s interesting use of movement and dance language that brought out the best in her amazing dancers especially the interesting interplay of the two male leads…and…. i only heard about 2-3 minutes of what you called techno driven music so you are exaggerating what actually was heard in the track at least from what i heard…the music had many different levels as did the choreography…..this was my first experience seeing her company and i was bowled over….the comments i heard from people next to me were “masterpiece”, “incredible” … it felt like the audience was holding its collective breath in anticipation during the whole piece waiting to see where bell was going to take them next…the woman next to me actually exhaled at the end as if she was lifted up from her chair in wonder…obviously bell is a force to be reckoned with as opposed to the pseudo ohad gaga mess of the first piece…

  • Rugby

    So the other day my nephew and I were wondering about this. I’m going to pass this post along, facebooking it now. Thank you for the excellent post and the happy coincidence.

  • Noma Kosanke

    Interesting article, thanks!

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