Ririe-Woodbury's final performance of the season (Propel) deserves a blog post. There was a lot to like at this show, and few things to criticize. Let's start with Charlotte Boye-Christensen's work, Lost. I've seen this work before in the black box theater. It was good then, but better now. I'm not sure if it was because the company has had time to live with work, or because it was on a bigger stage, but this work was more angry, more physical, and more radical than the first time I saw it. Then again, maybe it's just that I've seen it multiple times and have had more time to understand it.
The second piece was a world premiere by choreographer John Jasperse. One of the benefits of donating to Ririe-Woodbury is that you get invited to previews of premieres of new works. So I went to a preview of this work several weeks ago. My favorite quote from that evening occurred during the Q and A. Jasperse made a statement that, "I'm interested in what most people would find, [long pause] . . . boring." I loved that comment. And believe me, his work titled Spurts of Activity Before the Emptiness of Late Afternoon explored what many might find boring. Not me. I was intoxicated by the opening gesture; an elbow that slips off a knee (I've experienced that on multiple business flights when I unexpectedly dozed off). But that gesture grows throughout the work. It becomes a theme that translates into precisely choreographed dancers bumping and wandering across the open stage. This is choreography so new it's hard to digest. But for some reason I like it. I like the challenge. And I love the contorted shapes that the dancers create as the work ends.
Joan Woodbury's piece L'invasion from 1991 is delightful. It's a reminder why both Ririe and Woodbury are responsible for a formidable dance company. I love the ballroom-inspired choreography. I'm less inspired by the projections that factor into the work. But the live guitar music is fantastic.
The last work on the program was Alicia Sanchez's If My Right Hand Would Say What My Left Hand Thought. The dancers have to talk in this work, and if you read my blog often you know that I don't much care for talking dancers. (In support of my attitudes, I brought two modern-dance novices to this performance and over snacks at Metropolitan, they both mentioned they liked the dancers more before they heard their voices.) But there were moments when I liked the dancers talking, particularly when there comments were directed at audience members. This is a likable work with some of the best modern-dance lighting I've seen in a long time.
Full disclosure: I'm trying to get on the Advisory Board of Ririe Woodbury. But I'll still give a bad review if I don't think they're living up to their potential. With this show, they absolutely inspired me. And I can hardly wait to see them this spring in New York City. Keep up the good work.