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Review: Gallim Dance piece radical, harsh, just as artist apparently intended

Review: Gallim Dance piece radical, harsh, just as artist apparently intended

Gallim Dance is irresistible.

Gallim Dance is irresistible.

The New York City-based troupe, which appeared Friday night at Skidmore College, was quirky, intense and funny.

The ensemble of seven was also comprised of some of the most committed dancers out there. Appearing in the evening-length piece, “I Can See Myself in Your Pupil,” the dancers threw themselves into the movement, some of which was awkward. But all of it, the flops and falls as well as the stomps and tremors, was distinctive and surprising.

The dance and the company is a byproduct of Andrea Miller who, obviously, has a surging imagination. She lets it gush out into her movement vocabulary that is like no other. Her motion assaults, then collapses and swells again in waves of activity that keeps all eyes fixed on the stage.

“I Can See Myself in Your Pupil,” set to an international musical collage that included Puccini, Balkan Beat Box and Santogold, was interesting in that it didn’t have a single thread that tied it together. It was a radical suite, without theme or narrative. And it didn’t need one. It was that fascinating.

The piece began with the seven jumping straight up in the air. As one group came down another was ascending. Suddenly, the stage is still.

One has fallen to the floor while others are held up, caught in mid-flight. Troy Ogilvie, in a heap at their feet, unraveled her twist of limbs and torso in ways that seemed humanly impossible. These were tense moments as she slid along the ground, crippled, contorted and ignored by the others. She ended her struggle by finishing with a perfectly straight back and legs, next to the placid Francesca Roma.

Much of the piece hinged on these two women who appeared in nearly every section. They did an outstanding job carrying the work that at times was violent and dark, and in the latter sections, joyous and silly. And even though it was nonsensical, Miller unwittingly depicted the range of human strengths, frailties and idiosyncrasies.

Many sections were memorable. In one, dancers stood against the back wall as if in a police line-up. After staring down the audience, they stumbled forward as if in a funeral procession. The dancers then tore away from their somber march and exploded in a rage of chaos, which was heightened by their shadows colliding on the rear wall.

There was also a wonderfully wacky duet between Romo and Bret Easterling. He was the cool dude accosted by Romo who just wouldn’t leave him be. They wrestled in blundering ways that were hilarious.

What does it all mean? It hardly matters and it would be futile to apply any meaningful parameters. And that is exactly what makes Gallim Dance and its “I Can See Myself in Your Pupil” so appealing. It’s endowed with a devil-may-care attitude that frees the mind.

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