By ROSLYN SULCAS
Published: April 15, 2008
What exactly makes a dance feel too long? A program of seven new dances called “pocketworks,” presented at the Merce Cunningham Studio on Saturday night, raised this question in the form of “Plenitude,” one of its more intriguing and ambitious offerings, by Kimberly Young and the Extra-Sensory Pedestrians.
The title was apt. Bucket loads of clothes were strewn about; the four dancers moved in intermittent torrents of thrashing, frantic action. (Jennifer Harmon, the set designer, distributed or removed clothes but didn’t dance.) From the first moments of a low-lighted trio, with one woman rolling her head and upper body between two guardians of some kind, “Plenitude” established its own creepy world, greatly amplified by Stephan Moore’s accomplished, growling electronic score.
But “Plenitude” felt endless — not a mistake made by Abi Sebaly, whose “Aunt Lee Ann,” a solo of alternating jerky gawkiness and fluid elegance, was perhaps less than five minutes long. Performed by Ms. Sebaly to bits from “Good Morning Heartache” (sung onstage by Penelope Thomas) and Mims’s “This Is Why I’m Hot,” it was both puzzling and resonant in just a few well-chosen strokes.
Ms. Sebaly also presented “Siberia,” a quietly amusing piece for two couples, to the ballerina’s variation music in Act III of Glazunov’s “Raymonda” and piano pieces by Glinka. The dancers’ simple-looking, large-scale movements were never quite set to the music and yet felt musical; their same-sex and opposite-sex pairings offered both drollery and gravity.
Dylan Crossman, a member of the Cunningham Repertory Understudy Group, offered a nicely structured, austere quartet, “Why not? If it’s written ... ,” set off by a film (by Mr. Crossman) that echoed the views, the beautiful evening light and urban feel of the Cunningham studio. Like Mr. Crossman, Brandon A. Collwes, a Cunningham company member, showed strong influences of the master and also used film in his “Intentional Happenstance in Parts,” a trio whose dancers sported mirror-encrusted bathing caps and occasionally changed the unidentified music in midtrack. A nice sense of spatial composition and Mr. Collwes’s own mesmerizing dancing made compelling viewing.
Also on the program were “Swallow It Whole” by Sara K. Edwards and “if I just let go” by Christi Mueller. Neither was too long, nor were they memorable.