J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Choreography for Atrium

The Atrium of the Whitney Altria Annex just is not a natural performance space. “. . . the only personal thing I do . . .” was the awkwardly titled dance performed in the Altria Atrium last night, and it really was not well served by the space. Seating for the audience was set up in two opposing sections, around staircases and statues, forming a rough parallelogram, with the dancers performing in the center. Probably the best view was had by the security guard in the adjacent building.

Judith Sánchez Ruíz's choreography did take into account the challenges of the space. In fact, the highlight of the evening involved gymnastically employing the railings of the front entrance into the dancer’s moves. Grammy nominated Dafnis Prieto is an emerging percussion star, but his music, while accompanying the dancers effectively, did not introduce any memorable melodies. Prieto and cellist Dana Leong played well together, but there was not much for listeners to take home with them.

Sánchez Ruíz and her dancers deserve credit for performing under difficult circumstances, with the audience constantly moving and jostling for a better position. They also had to deal with competition from some of the large Whitney-style sculpture installations in a space with significant sight-line issues.

There is music to be heard every night in New York, but not every show can be transcendent. Wednesday in the Altria, we could give credit for effort and ambition, and then call it a night.