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Roschman Dance

                            by R. Pikser

Sean Roschman often shares his programs with other choreographers, a wise move for someone starting out.  For this season his program partner was Omar Román De Jesus, whose new piece,Saakasu (circus) occupied the middle of the hour-long program, while Mr. Roschman’s pieces opened and closed the program.  

                                                     Photos courtesy of

In his opening piece, Learning to Fold, Mr. Roschman found some interesting overlapping movements as the dancers entered and exited, showing the beginnings of a search for structure, though most movement was in unison.  The dancers moved cleanly and they looked at each other, something not often seen these days. The dynamics were constantly at a peak level, which can become fatiguing, but the dancers seemed to enjoy themselves, especially Yvette Johnson, who found the most differentiation and sensuality in her movement and consequently attracted the eye. 

The theme of Mr. Román’s Saakasu was not so much of performing animals, as one sees in a circus, but rather of some sort of creatures struggling to develop into something else, perhaps human, perhaps not.  The movement was grounded in a way that is no longer current in modern dance, but that one does see in Butoh.  In their grounding, the creatures writhed and wriggled to the rhythms of salsa that they beat out on the ground as they progressed or circled or retreated.  Perhaps that magical rhythm might carry them beyond themselves, a beyond suggested by the visual reference to the Degas sculpture of a young ballerina, or to the Debussy music and the Nijinsky choreography ofAprčs-midi d’un faun, another creature searching to go beyond.  The dancers, seen as almost naked in Mr. Román’s costumes and in the half-light designed by Christopher Chambers, also called to mind the semi-humans of Bosch.  References apart, the choreography was complex and original enough to keep one’s interest as to where it might go next.

The final piece of the evening, Mr. Roschman’s Crooked Creek, also showed the dancers trying to transcend themselves, but the premise was not clear.  There seemed to be some sexual triangles, or perhaps this was the apocalypse, but the original situations were not set up clearly enough for us to follow what was happening.  As in the first piece of the evening, the entrances and exits were structurally interesting, with the dancers overlapping and repeating each other’s movements, exchanging places as a means of advancing onto or retreating from the stage.  The music, by Aaron Martin & Christopher Berg, Tony Trischka, Bela Fleck, Mark O’Connor, and Edgar Meyer, was driving, as the movement, flinging and jumping, was driven, but it all needed a point of departure.  

Mr. Roschman is to be congratulated for trying to deal with substance, but he needs to be clearer about what that is and he needs to search for a vocabulary that will be specific to his purpose each time. Then he will find dynamic variation to suit and the audience will be better able to grasp what he is trying to convey. 

Sean Roschman
June 19th-20th, 2015
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Theater
in the original building of
The High School of Performing Arts.
120 West 46th Street
New York, NY  10026
Tickets $20
630 710 1452