Dancers in the Dark
Ballet Deviare w/ James Malone @ 59E59 Theaters, New York, January 7, 2006
by: T. DePalma
Slender limbs reached silently, writhing against a pitch curtain on an undressed stage no farther than three feet from the first row in attendance. Close enough to feel the vibration of each step, to catch the scent of hair and view the intake of each breath. This weekend Ballet Deviare sought to appropriate metallic songcraft as the basis for live drama. A cast of nine formed in concert light and frenetic heat. The climax of their effort has been a performance of sensual whirls daring enough to improve on all effects of the scores themselves.

For the novice, expectations were few. Conception absent while hauling through the nightly chill and barnyard odors of Central Park. Ballerinas and death vox, should I have worn a suit? The dancers, as it turns out, suffered no indignity in order to play some hyper-stigmatic role inferred by phonic selection, and the traditional leotard was employed with taste and no distraction. Indeed, members of the audience seemed more deeply in costume. A soundtrack by notables such as Opeth, My Dying Bride and Arsis delivered the metal contingent, logos and leather dotting rows planted with various ages and appetency. For my part, I nodded overhearing the suggestion that this music was not something one would listen to in their free time. It's no doubt, however, that the lengthy dynamics and often indulgent scope of the chosen artists provide an able backdrop for physical narration, keenly adapted into movements both elegant and grotesque.

The titular Seven, routines set to Swallow the Sun, Mara's Torment, Japanische Kampfhoerspiele and DJ Craig Andersonic as well as the aforementioned eye catchers lending "Deliverance", "My Wine in Silence" and "A Diamond for Disease" first built on the innate curiosity of the crowd; unfolding with such poise and quiet power to what became a full release of the sexual, joyful and grievous potential of the human form. By the third act they had owned the theater. That they knew it and didn't care to hide it, whether in the subtle but charged glances given to one another, or through the simple act of letting their hair down, only heightened the atmosphere. The show's finale, a dual performance with Arsis' James Malone (shyly kept on the balcony) took no step down in execution, melting counter-harmonies with liquid arpeggios as figurants were transformed into cunning maenads. Then it was flowers for the girls and whiskey for boys as the show concluded to much applause, rightfully so. Meaning was realized here, whether intended or not, and somehow, no matter the inclination, one artifice was made tolerable through the translation of another. A true conquest.

(article submitted 11/1/2006)


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