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Kathryn Posin†Dance

Claire Mazza and Daniel White.††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† photos are by Nan Melville

Kathryn Posin† Dance 

††††††† ††††††††††††††††††R. Pikser

Kathryn Posin continues to delight us all with her wide-ranging interests, her imagination, and her wit.† Lately, she has turned more to ballet, rather than modern dance, as her movement medium, though here and there whole body-movements sneak through and delight us. 

Though Ms. Posinís intelligence was always visible, this evening was mixed in its results.† The first piece, Triple Sextet, is a study in combining and recombining the six dancers with breathtaking intricacy.† Unfortunately, the speed and unrelentingness of the movement, like the Steve Reich score, did not allow the dancers, as clean and graceful, even brilliant, as they were, to move beyond themselves into breath or space.† Only Daniel White managed to move faster than the movement demanded so that he could get fully to the ends of his movements and find some breath and the possibility of phrasing.† Choreographically, Ms. Posin paid ample homage to Louis Horst, Martha Grahamīs mentor when she was starting out, and who, Ms. Posin said at the top of the show, was the one of her mentors who taught her about form.† One wishes that she had learned a bit more of the humanity that she said she learned from another mentor, Alvin Ailey, but the form was impeccable, never-flagging, somehow managing to connect idea to idea in one seamless whole of inventiveness. 

The end of the first half of the evening, Memoir, was a gentle solo for Lance Westergard, co-founder of Ms. Posinís company, who collaborated on the choreography.† Over his lifetime as a performer and teacher, Mr. Westergard has won many awards and taught many generations of dancers.† He is legendary.† However, in this piece, his gifts were not well served.† Choosing to use movements, no matter how gently performed, such as leaps, or beats, that make us think of how they must have looked in the performerís youth, did him no service, especially when this piece came on the heels of the flash of the young dancers in Triple Sextet.† Why not find movement and qualities that get better with maturity and explore those, rather than pursuing movement that tells us that the past was better?† Ms. Posinīs talent is surely up to this challenge. 

The second half of the hour and a half program was an integration of projections, choreography, the music of Bizet, and a reading by Ms. Posin of excerpts of letters to and from Charles Darwin, the most famous of the mid-nineteenth century naturalists and biologists who developed the theory of evolution.† The projection design and realization were by Jonathan Burkhardt, grandson of Frederick Burkhardt, editor of Darwinís letters, to whom the piece is dedicated.  

In this piece, Evolution, we again were treated to Ms. Posinís wit and imagination.† The dancers had pictures of the actual people they represented projected onto their bodies; Darwin himself had all of South America projected onto him.† In a love triangle, a giant sundew (a type of carnivorous plant), object of Darwinís fascination, competes with Emma Wedgewood, who eventually married Darwin, for his attention and affection.† We see the beauty of the birds of the Galapagos Islands, central to Darwinís development of his theory, portrayed both in projection and by the dancers, birds that Darwin described as so isolated, so unused to people, that they could be approached at will and then slaughtered.† We see them die.† And we could take home the excellent program notes that tell us about the people who surrounded Darwin as he and the biologists of his generation developed an understanding of what we now take for granted:† the knowledge that nature changes, and is not fixed forever by God.†  

It is interesting to note that, at the same time as Darwin and his colleagues were investigating and theorizing about how and why nature changes, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were theorizing about how and why societies change, and still others were not theorizing but were actively changing society in the great revolutionary upheavals of the time.† This reviewer would love to see Ms. Posin investigate the entire mid-19th century. 

Kathryn Posin
September 13th-14th 2019
Harkness Dance Center at the 92nd Street YM-YWHA

92nd Street and Lexington Avenue
New York, NY
Tickets $25
212 415 5500