LeeSaar The Company “Prima”

You can’t see everything. It’s a shared anxiety among New Yorkers, right. I mean, I know I can’t see everything – especially with a new full-time position, 2 kids and my own creative efforts. So, I’ve decided that Arts Presenters (and all the subsequent festivals that coincide with it) is my new back up plan of choice.  Next year, I might pretend to go away for several days and just see live art for days on end.  This year, I’m just going to shoot for 5 dance programs in 5 days – and then maybe some theater-ish stuff next weekend.

My first stop was with Lee Sher and Saar Harai’s LeeSaar The Company, formed in Israel 2000 and now based here.  “Prima” was at PS122 earlier this fall and is back for a return engagement as an off-site part of The COIL Festival at the Jewish Community Center. If you are a Batsheva addict, LeeSaar will satisfy any bouts of withdrawal in between North American tours.  The Company’s work appears deeply rooted in Naharin’s “Gaga” movement methodology.  A few months ago, Bobbi Smith taught a Gaga workshop at Hunter College while in town for Fall for Dance.  I haven’t been that happy moving since studying butoh in Kazuo Ohno’s little Yokohama studio.  The process takes one far into your own experience – away from visual expectations and typical classroom hierarchies – through individual explorations of mobility, strength, imagination, flexibility, and pleasure.  Oh the pleasure… I was ready to buy a ticket to Israel.

As LeeSaar’s dancers reveal, it also provides a pathway to rich individual expression.  The company begins every rehearsal with a class and that investigatory work leads to a multitude of innovative movement possibilities.  In “Prima,” the edges of violence and sexuality are slid across one another in an often exhilarating display of prowess and prowl.  Hsin-Yi Hsiang opens the work with an arresting solo.  As soon as she begins to undulate, I’m in. Game on. These bodies are going to move, move, move.  Jye-Hwei Lin follows for a brief solo and then Hyerin Lee and Candice Schnurr join for an explosive unison sequence.  All four women achieve a deep mobilization of their spines, oozing in a delicious, sinewy stew of supple dancing.  Their bodies are vessels for luscious manifestations in movement.  They all have access to great physical facility sure, but each dancer extracts her own unique portrayal of ease and awkwardness within the various sequences.  Schnurr stalks through the space with a ferocious sexuality balanced out by Hsiang’s subtle sensuality and kinetic richness.

The work wore on after about half an hour, wandering through various intervals of arbitrary stillness or silence.  The women repeatedly stood looking at the audience with blank expressions.  However, a climatic crawl forward provided a rousing moment of titillation and discomfort as the dancers came very close to the front row and stared, providing me with a few moments to compare the seductive value of a half-opened mouth versus a brazen stare.  These primas are ripe and ready for the picking.  More shows on January 9 (8pm) & 10 (3pm) at the JCC at 76th and Amsterdam. http://www.jccmanhattan.org/category.aspx?catid=1022#20298

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