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San Francisco Chronicle, March 13, 2008
Garrett dancers with Del Sol Quartet
Within minutes of the start of Janice Garrett & Dancers' new "StringWreck," one dancer has wrestled an actual violinist, precious instrument in hand, to the floor while another dancer is pulling the violist's hair while he plays on. But that's only the most flamboyant way the hourlong work, which opened Thursday and repeats tonight and Sunday at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, moves a step beyond most collaborations between dance and music.
The dance - a team effort of Garrett, fellow choreographer Charles Moulton and the Del Sol String Quartet - is a delight from start to finish. It takes what could have been a merely cute, contrived concept - dancers and musicians collide - and shapes from it a continually thoughtful, surprising and even touching journey.
Of course it helps that Garrett is one of this city's most eloquent choreographers, capable of crafting exquisitely sculpted streams of movement for her angelic but never saccharine performers. But watching "StringWreck," it's not possible to separate Garrett's William Blake-reminiscent lines from Moulton's sense of structure and wit and the Del Sol String Quartet's adventurous musicianship - and physicality. Witnessing the interplay, you get the feeling that, rather than writing a catchy grant proposal and working together in some preconceived way, these parties took the studio time to let their relationships, and their contributions, grow organically.
The piece breathes. Sometimes the musicians control the dancers, making them writhe as though possessed by dissonant drones, and sometimes the dancers control the musicians, hoisting them on their shoulders to rearrange them as they play. There is danger and tension in this breach - early on, the dancers take violins and stick them between their thighs, tiptoeing cartoonishly and thrusting them like phalluses at the audience seated on three sides, and you can't help but think how much those instruments cost.
Often it's as though the musical selections - everything from George Antheil to an Astor Piazzolla tango - are driving the dancers and musicians, like a spell, to showdown. During one frenzy, violinist Rick Shinozaki actually somersaults while eking out a few notes, and viola player Charlton Lee folds up and gets squashed like a bug by a strident Nol Simonse.
But there are both capers and serious caresses, moments when the music takes the fore, or the dancing. In one of my favorite sections, cellist Hannah Addario-Berry simply plays the "Dialogo" section of Gyorgy Ligeti's Sonata for Solo Cello while sitting atop the dancers, being inched forward ever so subtly by their shuffles. In another highlight, Simonse dances a doleful solo to the folk song "Black Is the Color (of My True Love's Hair)," and its repeated distinctive gestures - jumping and pawing the air in swirls, shaking hands, then holding palms out like turning blades - would constitute a gem of expressive movement in any context.
A longtime Janice Garrett & Dancers member, Simonse is moving with striking beauty these days, rolling like mercury from shape to shape, his whiplash body incapable of holding an inexpressive line. Dudley Flores, Kaitlyn Ebert, and tiny Tanya Bello are all clear, controlled movers and compelling presences, but not yet paragons of Garrett's style.
Jacob Petrie's lighting and Marlowe Bassett's costumes keep things simple, the better to register the clarity of ideas on stage. Late in the piece, Shinozaki plays the Adagio from Bach's Sonata No. 1 while the dancers arrange footstools beneath him, surrounding him in ever more heavenward-reaching embraces. It's the quiet emotional climax of "StringWreck," and the loud climax comes next in an explosive Piazzolla tango.
The choreographers being Garrett and Moulton, both deft formalists, every movement motif returns in kaleidoscopic fashion for the driving finale to Elena Kats-Chernin's "Fast Blue Village." Then, just to keep the game fair, the musicians teach the dancers to play "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." The Del Sol String Quartet's obvious affection for the dancers as their notes sounded like ailing cats couldn't be manufactured. And the beneficiaries of this charming rapport are in the audience, along for a wild, wonderful ride.
Rachel Howard, Special
to The Chronicle
March 12, 2007
Venerable Mainstream Aesthetic
The euphoria one experiences during the opening moments of Janice Garrett’s Brink, as bodies spiral from the wings at a breakneck velocity, can make you a bit giddy. It’s not merely the speed or the way that the movement fits Moses Sedler’s commissioned string score so snugly. It’s the unspoken message that, in dance, the entire cosmos is there, in the body. The modern dance world once believed that before deconstructive ironies buried the credo deeper than Etruscan ruins, and disgorged what one calls postmodernism, with its lame attempts at kinetic inclusionism and irony laid on with a trowel.
Garrett’s fifth home season, which opened a two-week run Friday (March 9) at Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater, proposes that kind of venerable mainstream aesthetic without faltering. The quantity of new work introduced last weekend is not exceptionally generous for a company that has not performed for 15 months, but being in the presence of Garrett’s lively, responsive company carries you through the program. The revivals of Brink and the uproarious Fast Brass (both 2005) buoy you in the first part of the program. Of the two premieres, 10 Studies on the Vicissitudes of Grief, is the one deserving of the most attention. Guest Charles Moulton’s 1991 Chickens, in its San Francisco premiere, proved a delectable comic creation with a serious message. Altogether, the program seems an almost ideal introduction to Garrett’s style and aesthetic. And her taste in friends is impeccable.
Brink moves in a four-part, almost symphonic form (reflecting the music), but the fast partnering gambits and lifts on the fly look treacherous. Truth to tell, the six members of the company (Jennifer Bishop Orsulak, Kara Davis, Julian De Leon, Bliss Kohlmyer-Dowman, Heidi Schweiker, Nol Simonse) sometimes threatened to come unhinged Friday. Partnerings were occasionally flubbed; balances and placements wobbled. One notices these infractions because of the clarity of Garrett’s steps, one senses the trajectory before hand. If Garrett’s choreography recalls anyone, it is surely José Limón’s. Both ennoble the body, respect its proportions and exploit its expressive possibilities. Garrett lets raised arms carry much of her import in the third section; the legs are spotlit in the fourth, yet there’s never a feeling of exploitation or gimmickry.
Regrettably, Archimedes’ Revenge, the second premiere, looks very much like a retread of Brink, right down to the string music (by Michael Thomas). The lifts are airier here (I presume the title refers to displaced bodies and such); and the scooping arms and the propelling of dancers over hunched torsos suggest Paul Taylor. The work is handicapped by some frightful costumes, all bespangled mud-brown flowing fabric with peek-a-boo openings in the back for the men. These eyesores, I have learned, are the replacements for the flowing white duds you can see in the company’s advertisements. Rehearsal outfits would be an improvement.
Garrett’s other premiere exerts considerably more fascination. She should more frequently mine the introspection of 10 Studies on the Vicissitudes of Grief. Garrett has drawn the pointillistic score from the works of that uncategorizable avant-garde icon of a couple of decades ago, Charlemagne Palestine. The pinpoint lighting casts rays of illumination on moments of shared tragedy. The ending, with bodies placed head-to-toe on the stage, is quietly stunning.
The charms of Fast Brass, fortunately, have not faded. The music of a mad Romanian band, Fanfare Ciocarlia, accompanies this wonderfully exuberant foray into quasi-folk dance. It’s village square, feast day fare in some Balkan province, and the dancers, with the men in loopy black berets, pound their way into your sympathies.
Moulton’s 1991 Chickens delivers a wry parable about being different. David Cale’s laconic narrator introduces himself as "a sissy," who has adopted a duck that thinks it’s a chicken. The timing is perfect and the performances, by Simonse as the protagonist and Bishop-Orsulak as the plucky, if not plucked figure (in red bodystocking), represent movement comedy at its best. Special words for the members of the barnyard follies, eight performers who cluck and stomp with verve. They lay no eggs, and the ringleader, Noé Serrano, who clucks loudest, is true chicken à la king.
ALLAN ULRICH , Voiceofdance.com
danceviewtimes, April 10, 2008
A Wreck that Soars
Gimmicks are all the rage these days. The idea of pulling the members of a string quartet out of their chairs to have them interact with dancers sounded like a clever marketing device but not something one necessarily wanted to see. In fact “StringWreck,” the collaboration between Janice Garrett & Dancers and the Del Sol String Quartet turned out to be a deliciously entertaining, slightly wacky evening of music and dance that could charm a turnip. Collaborating choreographers Garrett and her partner Charles Moulton set the tone but its blithe spirit floated on Del Sol’s exceptionally rich musical choices.
Garrett’s six-year old company has established a reputation for beautifully shaped choreography set to unusual scores. That’s something she has in common with the Del Sol Quartet who specialize in an eclectic repertoire of new music, much of it written for them. Moulton is best known for his Precision Ball Passing pieces who also works in theater and film.
From the opening gesture in which the dancers wove their way through the players and then broke out into space as if pushing windows open, the piece suggested an anything-is-possible spirit that was both light-hearted and meticulously realized. Dancers and musicians embraced their encounters with a rush of eagerness as if they had been confined to tight quarters for too long. The hour-long work’s finely calibrated sections appealed in part because of the delicacy of even its more robust aspects. The piece ebbed and flowed with touches of humor, puzzlement, tenderness, confrontations and even a flirtation or two. Everything was brushed with the lightest of touches.
At times, the dancers acted like pesky nuisances trying to interrupt the musicians’ concentration but at the string players’ turn, their assertive crescendos cowed the dancers into backbends of submission. If the musicians were often acted upon—unceremoniously carried about, having their music stands snatched from them—they out-maneuvered their colleagues in the “Allegro Energetico” of Murray Schaefer’s String Quartet No. 3. There the musicians barked, snarled and shouted all the while playing, creating the evening’s most wonderful havoc.
Even the necessary break was choreographed. Del Sol tuned their instruments; the dancers refreshed themselves with water. Everyone gargled—in harmony.
“StringWreck” included music as diverse as Astor Piazzola, George Antheil and JS Bach. Each of the string players performed a solo. These anchored this beguiling journey into mix and match and acted as quiet focal points for the work’s thirteen sections.
Cellists need to sit to perform comfortably. Though Hannah Addario-Berrio proved herself quite willing to be airborne, the dancers obliged her for “Dialogo” from Ligeti’s Sonata for solo cello. With her feet resting on the chests of two supine dancers and a third’s back serving as “bench”, they delicately propelled her forward as if on a cart. Another high point was Charlton Lee’s viola solo. Standing on a stool in a dramatic spotlight, he soulfully played a movement from Max Reger’s Suite No.1 as the others performers quietly and slowly processed along in the shadows. For Rick Shinozaki’s playing of the “Adagio” from Bach’s Sonata No.1, the dancers built an ascending stairway that surely suggested a passage to heaven.
“StringWreck” four dancers performed excellently. Two newcomers proved good additions to the company. Kaitlyn Ebert combines speed with balletic lines while tiny Tanya Bello dances huge, attacking phrases aggressively when she didn’t snuggle herself between a player’s arm and his instrument. Nols Simonse, one of the Bay Area’s most was exquisitely nuanced dancers, was as dreamy as a fleeting thought in a gorgeous arrangement of “Black Is The Color (of My True Love’s Hair).” Lovely in his partnering, Dudley Flores made his own contribution to free-spirited dancing.
Still not everything worked equally well. Waddling like ducks with a violin between your knees, or cringing into bellyaches at dissonance was pretty simple-minded humor. Also at times, the choreography had a tiptoeing through the tulips kind of aimlessness about it as if the choreographers could not quite find adequate responses to some musical intricacies.
For the finale dancers and musicians faced each other. The players generously handed over their instruments as the dancers scratched out a brave but god-awful version of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars.” They gave a whole new perspective to “StringWreck.”
Rita Felciano, San Francisco Guardian
Bay Area Reporter, March 2007
Janice Garrett is the kind of choreographer dancers love to work with: fast, musical and challenging. Fortunately, most of Garrett's dancers were more than up for the challenge in Garrett's fifth anniversary concert, a great showcase for some of San Francisco's most talented performers. Choreographically, the concert was a little uneven, but Garrett's intentions were clear, and her dancers helped support some of the weaker moments.
The evening started off on a very strong note: Brink (2005) was well choreographed and superbly danced. This was world-class dance, and if Garrett had maintained this kind of momentum, the evening could have been a success on every level. Brink featured an excellent score by Moses Sedler; although the choreography seemed sometimes to mirror the music, it was intelligently crafted and executed. If you're going to ignore every postmodern concept developed in contemporary dance in the last 30 years, this is how you do it. The piece was beautifully lit and had simple, understated costumes. Brink showed Garrett's skill for precise, visceral choreography that was well-developed and exciting.
The next piece was Fast Brass (2005) a wacky quintet set to a score by Fanfare Ciocalia. Black costumes and berets evoked a Euro, beatnik vibe, and Garrett used humor to create a series of vignettes that was part Three Stooges, part Pink Panther and a little Charlie Chaplin. The piece could have used a little more rehearsal, and the choreography needed sharper quality, looking a little muddy. Maybe an excerpt would have been better; less would have been more.
10 Studies on the Vicissitudes of Grief was a world premiere, and signaled a change of direction for Garrett. A minimalist score by Charlemagne Palestine featured a driving, repetitious rhythm. Garrett's choreography created an organic undercurrent that was gestural and somber. The shift in the evening was jarring, the rollercoaster of big movement and easy-listening music was gone.
Perhaps if the material were better framed, it would have felt like a more integrated idea. Pedestrian costuming was matched by muted lighting, which barely shifted. 10 Studies hit a plateau, maintaining a steady, unfolding quality. The most memorable moment was at the end of the piece, when a single dancer collapsed, and the stage suddenly went dark.
Guest choreographer Charles Moulton is a bit of a legend in the contemporary dance field but seldom appears on local stages, preferring to work abroad. His 2001 piece Chickens is a hysterically funny, surreal combination of queer theory, contemporary performance and commedia dell'arte. The piece follows the story of Sissy (beautifully performed by Nol Simonse), a queer boy in a rural town, and his love for his duck (Jennifer Bishop-Orsulak). The duck tries to fit in at a chicken roost by becoming a chicken, and is later rescued by Sissy. In the meantime, there is a very funny chorus of chickens that strut, preen and represent the idea of assimilating into the mainstream. The recorded short story was written and performed by David Cale, and Moulton's choreography was inventive and well-rehearsed. Garrett should watch out, things are dangerous when a chorus line of wacky chickens steals the show.
The evening culminated in a second world premiere by Garrett, Archimedes' Revenge. Since the piece was abstract, the title's reference was not immediately clear. Archimedes had the potential to be a good bookend for Brink, and began with promise. The bronze-colored costumes were elegant, almost red-carpet ready. Garrett returned to her tried-and-true formula of big movement and driving music by Michael Thomas (performed by the Brodsky Quartet). Something was missing. Where was the exact timing that Garrett demonstrated in Brink? At points, the dancers looked confused and a little tired, for Archimedes was unrelentingly aerobic (though Bishop-Orsulak's stamina and poise were startling; she danced in all five of the evening's pieces). This is going to be a gorgeous piece, look for it next year when the company has had the opportunity to really develop it.
Garrett's fifth anniversary was a great turning point for the company performing a two-week season in San Francisco is a huge accomplishment. The company might want to consider presenting a shorter, less ambitious program, because they have all the necessary components to present a successful season.
SF Chronicle, March 13, 2007
Janice Garrett & Dancers dig deeper for mesmerizing, lyrical effects
Janice Garrett seemed to burst onto the San Francisco dance scene fully formed, sprung from the brow of Zeus. That's because Garrett, who is now in her 50s, danced in the Bay Area in her youth before leaving for New York and then cutting her teeth as a freelance choreographer throughout Europe. She spent more than a decade in this peripatetic way, and when she finally resettled on our shore, in 2001, her "Ostinato" was revelatory: a lush, sculpturally gorgeous, thoroughly accomplished modern dance.
Garrett founded Janice Garrett & Dancers the following year. It's been one of San Francisco's finest companies from its first performances, and its fifth season, which opened Friday at the Cowell Theater and repeats this weekend, proves again why. Few choreographers can match the rich beauty of Garrett's movement, her unerring gift for flowing, complex line. Every step Garrett sets -- and there are lots of them -- arranges her dancers' joints and muscles into the kind of loveliness one could only learn from studying, say, Michelangelo. There is nothing static about her physicality -- it just pours on and on.
But as it pours onward, it raises issues. The truth is, none of Garrett's subsequent works, for all their loveliness, has matched the singular spirit, the heart, the raison d'etre, of "Ostinato." Garrett tends to choreograph by the yard, with sufficient formal ideas but few dramatic ones, and the result is that within those two camps -- comic and lyrical -- all of her dances tend to feel the same. So the question is this: Can a choreographer at this mature stage of development break out of her ways enough to lend her dances meaning, not just prettiness?
Garrett seems to be trying this in "10 Studies on the Vicissitudes of Grief," one of two premieres, and the results are encouraging. Charlemagne Palestine's taped music is a series of piano notes that just keep pulsing in tense but meditative repetition, and the title is forthright and accurate. You can count the studies off on your hand as they tick by: all five dancers taking turns cradling each other to the ground, then Nol Simonse shaking closed fists that the others gently subdue, then Heidi Schweiker mirroring Simonse's movements as she lays on his hunched back, and on for seven more scenes.
None of the studies yields anything unexpected, but in their slow-motion intentionality, several are mesmerizing. More importantly, they seem the kind of investigation that could lead Garrett to dramatic material that might give greater depth to her typical works. I hope she continues in this vein, even if I don't wish to see all the results onstage.
In the meantime, how beautiful Garrett's typical works continue to be. There are two lyrical ones on the program, and they're similar, both to urgent string arrangements, both sweeping and dense. "Brink," from 2005, uses music by Moses Sedler and sets its three couples in squares of white light before linking them in elegiac embraces. The premiere "Archimedes' Revenge," to music by Michael Thomas, is much shorter and brighter, built around rebounding bent-leg jumps. Schweiker was especially emotive in each, her once babyish face now framed with short red hair, her eyes searching and her hands unfailingly exquisite; she also contributed "Archimedes' " figure-flattering costumes.
The company's other wonderful dancers are Simonse, Bliss Kohlmyer Dowman, Kara Davis, Julian De Leon, and Jennifer Bishop-Orsulak, and they shone as an ensemble in 2005's "Fast Brass," to the loony bleatings of Fanfare Ciocarlia. Bishop-Orsulak also had a terrific turn in guest choreographer Charles Moulton's "Chickens," a sweet coming-out tale to recorded text by David Cale. Bishop-Orsulak played a duck forced to conform to a brood of chickens -- six guest dancers who clucked and squawked with outrageous effectiveness. The duck's liberation mirrors that of the gay narrator, played by Simonse.
A different flavor indeed than Garrett's serious lyricism. My viewing companion said she felt like she'd ingested three rich desserts and a hot dog. And yet this odd menu was strangely pleasing.
Rachel Howard, SF Chronicle
artssf.com, April 17-24, 2009
A Colossus Premieres in Modern Dance
The large Garrett-Moulton performing group has an extraordinary new dance-theater invention conjuring up visions of Greek-Roman mythology and more nebulous literary references, all in the context of modern dance. It’s a major undertaking in this era of economically challenged performing arts, with 24 barefoot performers on the Yerba Buena stage, plus another eight live musicians.
The hour-long world-premiere piece brought to mind Ariadne arriving on the island of Naxos, or Venus born and taken out to sea by gentle zephyrs. Just an hour long, “The Illustrated Book of Invisible Stories”---“IBIS” for short, recalling the water bird of ancient Egypt---is a remarkable creation co-choreographed (!) by the local artists Janice Garrett and Charles Moulton.
Behind the six dancers, “IBIS” features a unique Movement Choir. It is a tightly regimented ensemble of 18 women, in concept somewhere between a rhythm section, Balinese ketjak ensembles, and a Greek chorus (but without the singing). They move and gesticulate in tight formations, click and cluck, mew and strew flowers, and become a major dramatic force impelling the drama forward. They become The Wind, blowing dancers hither and yon, then sucking them back to the seaport. In the most arresting turn, they become a dense-packed centipede wandering about stage, scattering the recoiling dancers in terror---and in humor.
All this, from the fertile minds of Garrett and Moulton, who decided once upon a time that dance was really boring. Whereupon they were committed to stimulating each other to greater inventiveness. Where does the work of Moulton end, and that of Janice Garrett & Dancers’ leader begin? No one knows, and the company isn’t talking. The mystery prevails, as much as the specific allusions within the dance-theater scenes.
All I know is that the work of Garrett-Moulton is not to be missed, either here or elsewhere. It is creativity to the core. Petite Tanya Bello, who whirled and gyrated about the stage in dazzling fashion, was the sparkplug of the enterprise at the April 16 opening, showing a willowy fluidity in a memorable duo with ex-ODC dancer Private Freeman. Bello’s soft landings from jumps were exquisite. Bello reemerged for the climactic Ariadne-Venus arrival to port from the sea, standing on the back of a human ship, then being lifted up that mountain of Choir members into presumably a safe haven.
The sextet of soloists interacted in high-velocity fashion, in every possible permutation, with whipping limbs and back twists that somehow avoided all collision and disaster. Their high energy sustained the work, even when the movements were predictable. A wealth of lighting designs flooding the hardwood floors was created by Jacob Petrie. An agreeable score had been co-composed by Odessa Chen and Jonathan Russell, with Chen featured on several songs and guitar accompaniments. PRECEDENTS---The Garrett-Moulton collaboration had started last year with their 2008 “StringWreck.” Meanwhile, Janice Garrett & Dancers, founded in 2001, remains an active separate performing outlet.
Paul Hertelendy, artssf.com
VoiceofDance.com, April 17, 2009
From previous experience, you would not expect choreographers Janice Garrett and Charles Moulton (life partners away from the limelight) to be creatively compatible. Moulton’s widely performed and infinitely adaptable precision ball passing routine epitomizes the wit and sheer elation he finds in vigorous unisons and quirky counterpoints, which can often suggest platoons of action figures gone wonderfully haywire. On the other hand, Garrett’s aesthetic seems to regard straight lines as anathema to the urgings of warm flesh. Feeling has the edge over form.
Yet, in the frolicsome and often compelling Illustrated Book of Invisible Stories, geometry meets and marries anatomy, and the effect often leaves you a bit giddy. Premiered Thursday evening (April 16) at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Forum, the work, on view through Sunday, runs an incident-packed 65 minutes and a state of constant anticipation keeps you from succumbing to a few less savory aspects of the enterprise. Garrett and Moulton’s 2008 spectacle, StringWreck, mingled the dancers with the members of the Del Sol String Quartet, to favorable critical response. In The Illustrated Book, the eight participating musicians are consigned to a far corner of the room, while the audience sits on bleachers on three sides of the space. The new element in the Garrett-Moulton collaboration is a “Movement Choir,” an 18- person—17 women and Charles Gushue—team, clad in black and perched in tiers on its own platform. Their interactions with the six barefoot dancers, dressed in neutral blues, lend the piece its intensity and its fantasy.
The choir’s dramatic unison arm gestures and wavy body motion at the start suggest something close to classic tragedy, witnesses who cannot influence the trajectory of the narrative, but content themselves with commenting on it. The acrid sound of the bass clarinet at the start hint at austerity mingled with dread. The dancers swirl on alone and in pairs, and the interaction begins as feisty Tanya Bello climbs over the choir, pedaling her way in air (recalling “The Unanswered Question” episode from George Balanchine’s Ivesiana), before her figure is upturned, a ploy to which we return near the end of the piece. Over the next hour, the choir will descend from its aerie to form a tunnel through which the dancers crawl; it will approximate a cluster of human logs over which the dancers promenade. And it will resemble a Hydra-headed monster, ominously beckoning, an apparition from which the dancers will recoil. The choir will also grunt, gasp, squeal, vocalize, breathe deeply and scatter rose petals.
Perhaps, Garrett and Moulton are attempting to generate a dichotomy between natural forces and human aspiration, and perhaps they are hinting at the obstacles that eternally thwart, curb or redirect our urges. Garrett’s movement style, with its passionate deployment of neck and upper body, the almost voluptuous use of the arms and the constant eddying of the movement is wonderfully refreshing in this era of self-conscious minimalism. The silky muscularity and tonal and dynamic refinement of the dancers—who also include Jennifer Bishop-Orsulak, Kaitlyn Ebert, Dudley Flores, Private Freeman (now retired from ODC/Dance) and the understandably ubiquitous Nol Simonse—never lets up. Garrett’s choreography yields surprises in every episode, and depending on context, a gesture can evoke radically different moods. An arched back can suggest surrender at one moment and hint at yearning in the next.
Garrett wisely leavens the texture of her movement scheme. A lyric solo can open the gate to a playful group “scherzo,” set to pizzicato strings, and then resolve with a floor-hugging duet; Simonse and Ebert are gifted with the most searching of these exchanges. Freeman retains the boyish brawniness that won him a host of admirers at his former artistic home. Kudos to Garrett and Moulton who drilled their 24 performers with military rigor, yet infused the proceedings with a feeling of spontaneity. The Illustrated Book spins suggestions of scenarios yet to be written.
Jonathan Russell has furnished a mostly original and empathetic score, which wavers between classic and pop and even includes smidgens of Stravinsky and David Lang. Less winning were the ballads of Odessa Chen, delivered by the composer on guitar in a bland soprano and amplified to the point where the lyrics emerge a muddle. I salute the dancers who found their way into these ditties. Jacob Petrie’s lighting does what décor cannot, although I think I detected a few miscues at the opening performance.
Still, the piece, after a deceptively sedate start, rushes over you with the irresistibility of a spring storm.
Allan Ulrich, VoiceofDance.com