April 27, 2007
You should go to Zenon Dance Company’s twenty-fourth annual spring concert if for no other reason than to see Colleen Thomas’s “Catching Her Tears (44°N, 93°W).” Dramatic, inventive, and set to cellist Chris Lancaster’s live score—a lush mix of the lyrical and the apocalyptic—“Catching Her Tears” is one of the best pieces I’ve seen this year.
Consider Thomas’s richly evocative images: three women carry on an inert man, then dump him casually on the floor. A lightbulb flicks on; dancers enter with tiny pin-lights in their mouths. A woman and man scramble across stage in a continually collapsing form that looks first like a centipede, then like a praying mantis. Thomas is as adept at the tender (a footsy duet) as she is the creepy (three women enter on tiptoe, their upper bodies bent over, hands trailing the ground). The three women are like the sirens on a bad day, poking at their dead-looking man, lifting their skirts up for squeamish little dances. Lifted by a crescendo of Lancaster’s score, Thomas brings on all the dancers in a set of stellar collisions that might be the best moments from a soap opera season all jammed together—fast-forward baroque sex drama. Later, Thomas uses the same technique for pathos, mapping many Descents from the Cross on top of one another. But Thomas isn’t just a master of moments. All this amounts to something, too—a vast striving after expression and connection with a sweet, not saccharine ending: a woman holds a handful of tiny lights, then decorates herself with them, as if they were tears turned to diamond.
The other pieces in the concert mainly provide an opportunity to see Zenon’s extraordinary dancers. It’s not that these other works don’t vibrate pleasantly before the eyes, but they simply don’t show such depth of choreographic thought or reach of dramatic emotion as “Catching Her Tears” does. Danny Buraczewski is a long-time Twin Cities favorite and his work is always crowd-pleasing—lots of sweeping limbs and happy smiles. If I found his “Evidence of Things Unseen” square and uninteresting, no matter; at least it gives Mary Ann Bradley a chance to swivel her liquid hips. Hungarian choreographers contributed two pieces to the program: Gyula Berger’s sweet, hypnotic “Vermont Counterpoint” and Márta Ladjánszki’s “Only You.” Ladjánszki messes around with crawling, barking, climbing, cross-dressing, undressing, and so on, making a sexual stew that’s not so hot. Hot, though, aptly describes Zenon’s men. They’re all eye-catching, but one in particular can’t be missed: suddenly you’ll see him fly in an impossible leap or execute a crazy flip that seconds later you won’t quite believe you saw. I call him Bryan “What the hell was that?” Godbout. Sean Curran’s “Coda” is a flat, unimaginative composition, but again here are the dancers; I particularly noticed Tamara Ober, feral in her attack but pure in her form. The dancers are Zenon’s pride and heart, and they are worth seeing, whatever they’re doing. I’ve mentioned only three of them here, and there are seven altogether in this concert: the rest are for you to discover on your own.
Zenon's Spring Concert runs through May 6.