To dance is to express emotions that words simply cannot, and Angela Jones is a dancer/choreographer who could fill a dictionary by the mere angular twitch to an elbow or lift to an eyebrow. Her recent evening of dance pieces created in collaboration with five other dancer/choreographers and titled "UnBound!", showcased this highly individual artist in a wonderfully entertaining evening of often startling originality.
Jones is an artist who trades in opposites. Her invention was unbounded, her style was often abandoned, and yet the wild movements were achieved with an almost rigid, mathematical precision. Whether the tone was tragic or comic, she had a way of breaking through clichÈs with an unexpected expectancy, and the experience was breathtaking. At times the wealth of choreographic invention did seem as if this young artist did not stop to truly think out the arc of a dance, with the result that some of the pieces appeared unfinished. This was particularly true of "Mare Nostrum", a compelling piece that ended before it made its point, and "Grace", a disturbing trip through the mind of a mental patient that went on far too long.
But to play it safe in everything but sex is deadly. And Jones just cannot play it safe. With tapper Barbara Duffy, Jones created a fun challenge dance that pitted the angular Jones against the graceful Duffy. (When Duffy returned later in the program, her jazzy tap improv caused waves of spontaneous - and deserved - applause.) With the hilariously stolid Tom Seigman, Jones did a take on a frustrated wife that was laugh out loud funny, with the lithe Sara Baird she performed a sexually bracing rendition of the "Habanara" (beautifully sung by Anne Ricci, Erin Browne and Andrea Browne) and the second-half opener, created with aerialist Chelsea Bacon (another force to be reckoned with) was technically awesome, athletically inventive and visually stunning.
The most poignant moment of the evening, however, belonged to Eva Gregori (formerly the prima ballerina assoluta Eva Evdokimova). Her piece, choreographed with Jones and set to Gregori's narration of Virginia Wolf's "The Waves", was an aching paean to a woman's fear of aging, and Gregori captured every nuance with gorgeous, controlled movement and heartbreaking sensitivity.
The evening was beautifully lighted, the aforementioned "Mare Nostrum" especially so, by Joel R. Pape, and technically was quite impressive, featuring video installations (by Gary Posner), terrific sound by Ken Hypes, and interesting, original music by Posner, James Gordon, Jane Siberry and John LaSala.
Whether or not Jones ever breaks into the mainstream remains to
be seen. With the current corporate trend to play safe, she may
have too much style and originality to fit comfortably into the
often staid environs of the commercial dance world. But that would
be a loss to the creative community, for her talent, if sometimes
unbridled, is nevertheless genuine and deserves to be nurtured,
displayed and embraced.
(Costumes by Britt Nhi Sara)
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Copyright 2000 Doug DeVita