Brian Brooks Moving Company
Jacob’s Pillow Dance
July 10-14, 2013
Review by Seth Rogovoy
(BECKET, Mass., July 10, 2013) – In a funny way, this weekend’s program in the Doris Duke Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow Dance featuring the Brian Brooks Moving Company is almost like a rejoinder to a dance seen on the Ted Shawn stage last week: Necessity, Again, by the Norwegian choreographer Jo Stromgren, performed by Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. Where that dance was, at least conceptually, about “deconstruction” and the dialectic between reason and emotion, this week’s entire program, rather, revels in construction, de-construction, and emotion.
It’s also beautiful and funny to boot.
In the course of the four varied dances on the program, choreographer Brian Brooks’s favored vocabulary and themes emerge, as does the perfection of his dancers in conveying his work. Brooks’s choreographic toolbox favors stark angles, the effect of weight on motion, and the interplay of bodies upon each other.
In other words, movement and dance.
The opening number, the monumental Big City, for seven dancers including Brooks, could very well, as it title indicates, be the story of civilization-building. It begins quietly, with dancers entering slowly, some standing, others lying down, with those standing testing out the prone bodies for support, to see what can be done – and not done — with them. At the outset, the stage floor is covered with aluminum tubes, which work against purchase. Over the course of the sequence, pathways are created amidst the tubes, which eventually are cleared, and wind up at the end being otherwise engaged, as do the prone dancers.
Descent, for six dancers, was sharp and vivid, with dancers bearing each other on their backs, forming distinct angles, letting plain physics do half the work and oddities of perception do the other half (although, of course, the phenomenal dancers themselves were really doing all of the work). As if to contrast the heavy physicality of their bodies, the dancers in one section floated sheer, gauzy fabrics, fanning them, creating air currents that made them move and dance with ethereal grace.
Brooks danced a very entertaining solo of his own, I’m Going to Explode, choreographed to an electrofunk track called “Losing My Edge” by LCD Soundsystem. Visually, musically, and aesthetically it recalled David Byrne’s work with Brian Eno, writ large for the stage. It was a very welcome confection, and a virtuosic showpiece for Brooks.
The evening concluded with Motor, a duet excerpt from a larger piece, danced by Brooks and Bryan Strimpel. Again, the dancers angled themselves and moved forward (and back) on one leg in such a way as to create a visual dysfunction. What they were doing, and what we were perceiving, were two different things entirely.
It was downright magical.