I Am What I Am Not
nytheatre.com review by Edward Elefterion
August 14, 2010
I Am What I Am Not is an hour-long presentation of six modern dances performed by Dancers of NYC. If you're interested in modern dance you might want to wait until the company has had a chance to work out the many kinks that plagued the performance I attended at their opening. The strength of the performance: the fact that Dancers of NYC are all non-native New Yorkers, hailing from very far and very wide. The weakness of the performance: not enough rehearsal to bring the diversity of the company into a cohesive whole, resulting in a lack of artfulness.
Of the eight dancers, two are from the United States: Lisa Julian (Pennsylvania) and Megan Ward (Tennessee). The remaining six are Marjolayne Auger (Canada), Licia Calcagno (Italy), Noemi Di Gregorio (Switzerland), Karolina-Maria Kolodziej (Germany), Maiko Matsui (Japan), and Gessica Paperini (Spain). All of them have impressive credits and it was a pleasure to know that they had come together and were creating work in New York.
Goethe famously had three questions that I always find useful when thinking about art:
- What is the artist trying to do?
- How well did s/he do it?
- Was it worth doing?
The answer to question 1 in this case is Modern Dance. That's what they were doing. What were they trying to do with or through Modern Dance is a mystery to me.
Question 2 is about the "how," and I have to report (sadly) that the "how" would have to be described as poorly. Basic techniques of balance, line, extension, synchronicity, and spatial awareness were all at issue for the dancers, and the choreography suffered mostly from to superfluity of ideas that kept anything from really developing, as if the creators measured quality only by quantity.
As for question 3, what seems to me the most important and difficult to answer: it obviously depends on whom you ask. From the company's point of view, it was certainly worth doing, showing their work to New York audiences at the largest North American performing arts festival. That's a feather in any company's cap. From the audience's point of view, from my point of view: no.
At several points in the performance some dancers were clearly eyeing their neighbors in order to see what step was next. At their current point of development, I'd say that they need more time in the rehearsal studio developing a cohesive ensemble, learning more how to edit as a company, develop confidence, and really prepare correctly.