Tom Strini
Steven Moses/Jaimi Patterson

Rooftop Dances

Moses, Patterson and friends will be back on the roof overlooking the Milwaukee River for two shows Saturday night.

By - Jul 7th, 2012 01:16 am
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Steven Moses.

The coiling, contorted beauty of the human body held pride of place Friday evening, at the Rooftop Dance program produced by Steven Moses and Jaimi Patterson.

Those two set the tone at the start with Love’s Fodder, which Luc Vanier made for them in 2010. The two spent a long while seated next to one another as if deep in meditation, before turning their focus on each other. They the commenced muscular, erotic wrestling. The two — a couple offstage, as well — twined around each other in the most amazing ways, at least three times sealed their moves with kisses. An intense electronic score by Chris Burns accompanied. Their comfort with such close contact, their trust in the mutual support and their calm faces made the piece as lofty as it was sensual. Love, lust and art merge in this piece, which also has a purely choreographic thesis: It’s all about tying and untying knots in graceful, unexpected ways.

If Love’s Fodder was Act 1 of Scenes from a Marriage, Moses’ I Have What You Need was Act 2. Bodies merge in the former; in the latter, they move through space expansively, they dance in athletic, exuberant tandem, then split off into variations. They often settle into a beautiful pose, rather like archers drawing bows, as cadences. They fly apart, but the gravity of love pulls them back into many varieties of embrace. Their simplicity and innocence of sentiment, coupled with the virtuosity of the dancing and the beauty of the dance, make you a little happier about being human.

I loved the transition from I Have What You Need to Moses’ solo, Fata Morgana. Patterson left Moses lying supine downstage left, walked calmly to the side and fetched a small metal bowl. She put the bowl into his outstretched had and exited. He turned it over and spilled the water on himself. Fata Morgana, with a voice-over text by Justin Spaller, is a surreal prose poem about a man living through, or perhaps dreaming about, a heat wave so severe that all water has evaporated. It begins with the protagonist awakening parched and drenched with sweat. I wrote about this piece at its premiere last summer at Danceworks. I won’t repeat myself, but I will say that this second viewing confirmed first impression: Fata Morgana is a knockout.

Elizabeth Johnson and Luc Vanier have been Moses and Patterson’s particular mentors. Patterson danced a new solo, Ahem, that Johnson made for her. The physical similarities of the two dancers struck me: They’re both compact, fleshy, strong, flexible and given to extreme stretching and bending. Johnson often plays with an uneasy relationship with the audience and gave Patterson some of that. A loud ahem demands attention at the start and applause at the end, and she often looks over her shoulder — or whatever limb might be blocking her view, as she goes through her crazy pretzel shapes — to make sure we’re watching.  The music for the second half is How’m I Doin’, by the Mountain Man. Do listen.


Jaimi Patterson.

Patterson, Gina Laurenzi and Kao Zhong Xiong premiered Moses’ Untitled Trio, to music by Gotye featuring Kimbra. The three sometimes moved as a squad, but more often Xiong was odd woman out, as Patterson and Laurenzi fell out of ensemble to go their way. A recurring move: Patterson and Laurenzi stood shoulder to shoulder and caught Xiong when she threw her body at them, then quickly put her down and sent her on her way. The dance became more and more ground-bound and more about contortions as it went on. Xiong further isolates herself at the end, wanly singing about going home but it not being home. Never quite got my head around this one.

Hillary Anderson’s feet appeared to be at war with her hands in her bizarre Oh, What a Grip, set to Florence and the Machine’s cover of The Beatles’ Oh, Darling. This condition led, naturally, to all sorts of contortions and tightly-bound, convulsive movement. You try dancing with your hands trapped beneath your feet. You know how some comedy is funny but hard to watch (think Louis CK)? Oh, What a Grip is like that.

Javier Marchon-Ramos, in the premiere of his Number III was lithe, quick and casual. The dance had three little episodes, and the music changed three times. But it didn’t build or go anywhere. Marchon-Ramos made everything — even the speedy, virtuosic outbreaks — look easy and relaxed. No strain, no contortions, just graceful noodling. We needed that.

This concert took place out of doors, on the roof on a commercial building on Humboldt Avenue. The venue had nothing whatever to do with any of the dances. The views of the Milwaukee River are lovely. The ceaseless rumble of the building’s giant HVAC unit is not.

Repeat performances are set for 8 and 10 p.m. Saturday. Rain/overflow same times Sunday. Tickets are $20, $15 for students. The concert will take place in the InVivo building, 2060 N. Humboldt Ave., on the north bank of the Milwaukee River, at the bridge. Note: The only access to the roof is via a stairway.

Don’t miss anything. Keep track of dance and all the performing arts. Bookmark Matthew Reddin’s TCD Guide to 2012-13. Sponsored by the Florentine Opera.

Categories: A/C Feature 3, Dance

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