Elegant, Lazy-Sexy Slam Dancing Highlights ‘New Adventurers’ Mixed Bill

Attractive and the most unlikely partners, Anya Cloud and Eric Geiger maximize juxtapositions in their seductive duet “Fingertips Toward Floor, Head Follows or The Lazy Sexy Peepshow,” on view this weekend at the White Box.

One of six dances in the showcase NEW ADVENTURERS presented by ArtPower! “Fingertips…” is the most distinguished offering and would be welcome in the repertory of the finest companies.

New Adventurers choreographers from left: Jaime Nixon, Alicia Peterson Baskel, Zaquia Mahler Salinas, Blythe Barton, Angelica Nixon, and Anya Cloud. Photo: courtesy of ArtPower!

New Adventurers choreographers from left: Jaime Nixon, Alicia Peterson Baskel, Zaquia Mahler Salinas, Blythe Barton, Angelica Nixon, and Anya Cloud. Photo: courtesy of ArtPower!

Cloud and Geiger appear as contrasting bookends in soft gray street clothes. Cloud is a tall woman, much taller than Geiger, and they grin and trade glances, not in a silly way, but like cats eyeing little birds, or spies holding a dark secret inside. They finally stretch into slides and turns, and we hear garbled words about peep holes.

We are mesmerized by soft penche –bends at the waist – and juicy turns where muscled legs slip out of the hip joint. Next, they speak under their breath and flutter on the balls of their feet until their backsides wiggle like firm Jello. What a wonderfully strange and humorous moment.  And the tension grows. Will they ever touch?  How will this end?  Wham – they strike with powerful blows and slam their bodies onto the floor, not like the wrestlers on TV, but for real.

Eric Geiger and Anya Cloud airborne. Photo: Tim Richards.

Eric Geiger and Anya Cloud airborne. Photo: Tim Richards.

Program notes credit Feldenkrais®Method. (The training program was developed by Moshe Feldenkrais,1904-1984, and he used elements of Judo to strengthen the body and avoid injury). It obviously works.

Cloud and Geiger perform full out strikes to the neck, flips, pins, and body slams, yet they seem impervious to pain. They respond to a recorded voice reading a list of body parts. Then the dance becomes a deft tribute to the amazing human body and trusting partners.

The work marks an intriguing new direction for Geiger, a veteran dance artist and educator who is a captivating performer, but has presented loose improvisational works for several years. Likewise, Ms. Cloud also impresses with her reckless and elegant new voice.  Relive the experience via video trailer, by videographer Ash Smith. https://vimeo.com/79137887

Blythe Barton is well known as a dancer with San Diego Dance Theater and Malashock Dance, and she also directs her own company, Blythe Barton Dance.  In “Ordo Vivendi” she collaborates with the Neave Trio and draws strong performances from six dancers.  Set to somber music by Shostakovich played live, dancers dressed in edgy black strapping slog across the diagonal with fists clenched.  Bodies trudge forward and rebound.  Powerful legs kick out in high lifts. Unison and structure are sound, although I longed for a change in direction to shake it up . Experiencing the music live is divine though, and the work speaks to the fortitude of humans. Dancers claw their way toward a bright light, only to tumble backward as if pushed by an invisible force, but they contract and charge ahead into the light once more.

Jaime Nixon’s “I Appear Missing” is designed for the White Box space. Dancers open and close window blinds to create natural shadows and shape a walkup apartment narrative. Side lights add to the drama. There’s a sense of loss and loneliness, and Brittany Taylor grabs our attention as the most despondent woman peering out a window. The dance might be better received with a more engaging rhythmic score.

Bathed in watery blue light, Angelica Lopez’s “Two Oceans” contrasts a mother’s impossible morning schedule with life-sustaining water.  Dancers press soft hands forward and back as if rolling in gentle surf. Though not fully realized, the work reveals thoughtful pacing and invites viewers to walk in a busy mother’s shoes.

In the dance “In_Genuine (excerpts),” by Zaquia Mahler Salinas, a young man is overwhelmed by self-indulgent women, which evokes images of stalkers and bullies.  Interactions can feel awkwardly juvenile and disconnected. The work needs more editing and firm resolution. Couples change partners and one woman gets picked on. Johnny Cash singing Roberta Flack’s “The first time…” becomes cringe inducing as women scoot on their bellies and surround the uninterested man.

The program opens with Alicia Peterson Baskel’s “Untitled II” outside the theater in the parking lot, and it would be wrong to call it a dance. It’s another process-sharing experiment, similar to what she presented at the WoW Festival in October, only this time a soliloquy. She swishes her foam skirt and comments on jets flying over-head. There are glimmers of theater madness when she coils her hands and serves up dinner like June Cleaver.  Still, the process style is predictable and stale, which is out of place in this admirable showcase. Audiences will have to wait for a fresh artistic approach from this experienced artist.

New Adventurers is presented by ArtPower! of UC San Diego, and sponsored by Margaret C. Marshall.





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