Review: A Better Day Dawns With Pam Tanowitz’s Witty New Dance

RED HOOK, N.Y. — For a second or two, Pam Tanowitz might have been regretting the title of her newest dance: “I was waiting for the echo of a better day.”

The phrase comes from a movie by Jean-Luc Godard, and Tanowitz certainly meant it to hold the cost of a return to performing reside and in-person. But the work, commissioned by the Bard SummerScape competition, is designed for the outside, and the premiere, initially scheduled for Thursday, was canceled due to rain. So was the Friday present. The title was in peril of turning into an evidence for the premiere that by no means was.

On Saturday, although, the climate cleared lengthy sufficient for “I was waiting” to make its debut. It was effectively well worth the wait. As for higher days, I can consider few dance experiences as thrilling as this one for the reason that pandemic started.

Unlike many performances compelled outdoor by coronavirus protocols, this one actually took benefit of its setting. This wasn’t a dance that may have been higher in a theater. It couldn’t have existed in a single.

To start with, the setting was wonderful: Montgomery Place, an property adjoining to and owned by Bard College, the place Tanowitz is choreographer in residence. A nice stroll (or golf-cart journey) via the grounds led to a steeply sloped strip of garden stretching from the balustrade and steps of a mansion right down to a pond backed by a vista of the Catskill Mountains and a sliver of the Hudson River.

We viewers members sat on the garden, remoted from each other inside areas like circles on a Twister board. String quintet gamers — together with the violinist Jessie Montgomery, whose vibrant compositions served because the rating — readied themselves on a canopied platform. But the place have been the dancers going to bop?

Everywhere, it turned out. And that was the glory of this 45-minute work. At first, viewers dealing with the vista needed to twist again, as at a marriage, to see the primary dancer — the radiantly lucid Zachary Gonder — descend the slope, darting among the many circles like a firefly. Other dancers adopted, however the first shock wasn’t within the foreground: It was dancers within the distance, wearing vivid yellow or blue, arabesques among the many bushes, visible echoes that made the dance broaden.

This was the overall impact of Tanowitz’s sensible use of area: pleasurably stretching one’s consideration. At instances, a number of dancers down by the pond carried on as extra up by the mansion did one thing else. But such more-than-you-can-see simultaneity was just one choice amongst many.

Often, as a dancer was holding our consideration, one or two or three others would emerge from the encircling foliage: extra visible echoes that, in altering the form and orientation of the dance, appeared to change the area round it. When the dancers ran down a brand new path or ventured onto a brand new patch of open grass, it was as in the event that they have been lighting up options of the panorama, illuminating discoveries. When, in a solo part, Melissa Toogood traveled down from the balustrade to the pond — after which previous it, to look in a brand new spot, nearer to the river — the scale of the dance as soon as extra elevated in a method that’s solely attainable exterior. It was a transfer of wit that opened up marvel.

All the whereas, this choreography of area was enlivened by a motion vocabulary extra advanced, intricate and diverse than you may count on from dancers in sneakers on soggy and uneven terrain. These dancers — Jason Collins, Brittany Engel-Adams, Christine Flores, Lindsey Jones, Victor Lozano and Maile Okamura, along with Gonder and Toogood — are marvels, alone and collectively. In sluggish sections, they coalesced into sculptural teams of nice, counterbalanced magnificence.

Their phrases had their very own music, but it surely harmonized with Montgomery’s rating and its oscillating rhythms, accelerating pizzicati, scraps of Gershwinesque melody, folks track twang and bug drones. In the silences, birds chimed in.

For me, the pleasures of “I was waiting” echoed these of earlier Tanowitz works, together with the elegant “Four Quartets” that she debuted (indoors) at Bard SummerScape in 2018 and reminded me of the bold, terrific SummerScape program by Ronald K. Brown/Evidence in 2019. This series is building a track record of reliable transcendence, a promise of better days to come.

Pam Tanowitz Dance
Montgomery Place, July 10-11;

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