Critics’ Picks

Moriah Evans, Social Dance 1-8: Index, 2015. Performance view, Issue Project Room, Brooklyn, NY.

Moriah Evans, Social Dance 1-8: Index, 2015. Performance view, Issue Project Room, Brooklyn, NY.

New York

Moriah Evans

ISSUE Project Room
22 Boerum Place
January 22–February 1, 2015

Moriah Evans’s much-anticipated debut at Issue Project Room begins before you enter, and you are let in one by one. This feels oddly both intimate and distancing, as if the dance is being privately disclosed to you but taking place for its own sake. You sit and are instructed not to transgress the orange line in the marble floor just past your feet, past which it is already visible that a very demanding piece of choreography is being executed. Executed: You will be aware throughout of the distinction between dance and dancers. It feels heroic, their achievement of this baroque, athletic repetition of vernacular vocabulary (kick line, pony, step touch, grapevine, waltz), abstracted and composed according to what seems like math. There is a tension here, which breaks, between a sense of dancers as artists—subjects enjoying the strangeness of their exuberant social gestures’ recontextualization—and as contracted workers, enduring a combinative exhaustion.

A feeling of support that touches conspiratorial humor prevails among the five onstage (Maggie Cloud, Lizzie Feidelson, Benny Olk, Sarah Beth Percival, and Jeremy Pheiffer). It must also be said that two are standouts, plain as day: Feidelson, with her absolutely determined exactitude, and Cloud, whose ease of mastery explains why she is the only dancer smiling. But however articulately bodied and interreliant they may be in their success, they come off as props, and Evans is obviously not alone among contemporary choreographers in her use of them as such. Evans has gained renown over the past few years; one might hope that her work, with its emphasis on examining the familiar, comes to celebrate the minds with whom it works just as it celebrates the range of motion they call home.