Dancing barefoot with two younger women in her hourlong “Latitude,” Dana Reitz conjures several forms of theatrical magic. There’s no music; seldom has dancing without music so well shown its own inner music or cast such a spell.
Over the decades, Reitz has made dances with and for Mikhail Baryshnikov and Sara Rudner. She has worked with a number of lighting designers, most memorably Jennifer Tipton;
“Latitude,” a world premiere presented at New York Live Arts by the organization Lumberyard, Thursday through Saturday, shows how she has mastered light and its conjunction with movement.
The lighting often creates a vertical row of four parallel horizontal fields, with dark bars in between them. The drama changes. Now the three dancers — Elena Demyanenko and Yanan Yu are the others — stay on those intervening bars. (Sometimes they pace on them slowly as if on tightropes.) Now they keep within the illuminated fields; now one roams in the surrounding shadows.
And in some sequences, as if breaking rules, the performers disregard the lighting and instead cross the space diagonally. In some passages, the individual fields are differently lighted.
In others, the fields and bars vanish altogether to make the space an even plain: the drastic change of geography — or of perception — is disconcerting, but the dancers carry on.
You might be watching a community of nuns or worker bees. These women, dressed in calf-length culottes with chemises and jackets in dark pastel colors, remain gently purposeful throughout.
The movement is entirely flat-footed, often pedestrian, with impulses now rigorous, now mild. Dancers bend from the knee or waist; arms and spines ripple and stretch.
Often they employ four wooden rods or sticks. Sometimes they arrange them to make various mini- or maxi-geometries on the floor. Or they wield them like implements — punt poles, divining rods, balancing poles, spears used as if to catch fish.
One striking effect comes when we watch one dancer walking, with long rod, outstretched along a central line of shadow; because the zones on either side of her are lighted from different sources, her straight rod casts the shadow of a broken line.
The mood stays soft, hushed. On three or four occasions, the dancers murmur to one another; you can’t hear words. The only other sounds are from the sticks (some loud percussive clacks) or breathing.
(Demyanenko’s series of sighs at the end of one solo is distracting, contrived.) Yet nothing is monotonous. Although the dynamics are mainly muted, they contain gradations, contrasts. The three at times move like a single team, at others like three independent people engaged in unrelated tasks.
The sustained peacefulness is remarkable: “Latitude” is as satisfying as listening to wind chimes or watching birds on a lawn.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
Source: Pulse. Ng