THEY ASK ME WHY
nytheatre.com review by Judith Jarosz
Kudos to Refractions Dance Collective’s young co-directors Sarah
Donnelly and Charmian Wells, who have put together a group of talented,
well trained, physically strong, diverse and attractive dancers, many of
whom are recent graduates of New York University.
August 15, 2003
The evening consists of six pieces (with one intermission) and is an interesting and musically diverse (everything from Philip Glass to Nine Inch Nails) program. One of the things that I liked about this group (and about modern dance in general) is that it allows dancers with different body types to participate. As lovely as the pencil thin swans at ABT can be, it is nice to see women of a more "normal" size expressing themselves through dance. Don’t get me wrong, all of these dancers—Sarah Donnelly, Charmian Wells, Serena Caspary, Anna Jordan, Kimberly Petros, Christina Orloff, Emily McKinnon, Elizabeth Motley, Courtney Drasner, Breean Brasile and Courtney Trammel—are extremely well trained and fit. They also look healthy, and not emaciated.
All six pieces are engrossing, with strong athletic choreography that often brings to mind Martha Graham mixed with sensuous gymnastics. Some highlights for me include "The Culpability and Casualties of Citizenship" (a world premiere), choreographed by Sarah Donnelly. With electronic music & beat box by the talented Taylor McFerrin, this stark strong piece which features Serena Caspary, Anna Jordan, Kimberly Petros and Charmian Wells has a military feel, with the four dancers in cargo pants reacting with various emotions, while Mr. McFerrin’s soundtrack, which includes pieces of broadcasts of world events, blasts away. "Sensation of Light," choreographed by Charmian Wells to music by Philip Glass, is a very sensuous, strong and passionate duet performed beautifully by Breean Brasile & Sarah Donnelly.
Lighting Designer Lucas Krech creates some very nice effects with limited equipment, and though no one person is given credits for the costumes, they are all simple, attractive and serve each piece well.
The press publicity description of this performance rightly calls it "a fiercely physical dance theater program set to diverse sounds." For anyone interested in seeing the quality of the next modern dance generation, I highly recommend it.