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Review: ‘Bound’ and ‘Ecsteriority4 (Part 2)’ Explore Confinement and Collision

THE NEW YORK TIMES
By SIOBHAN BURKE
MAY 21, 2015

The premise for Travelogues, a series at Abrons Arts Center, is simple and wide open: The curator Laurie Uprichard, formerly the director of Danspace Project and the Dublin Dance Festival, presents work that she has seen and admired, whether it’s from down the block or across the ocean.

For the second installment, which opened on Wednesday (the first was in January), she selected two New York choreographers, Kimberly Bartosik and Dylan Crossman, both former members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. While both employ the clarity of Cunningham technique, their more direct connection is that Mr. Crossman, a disarming performer, is one of Ms. Bartosik’s dancers. That means we had the pleasure of seeing him twice: in his own solo, “Bound,” and in Ms. Bartosik’s “Ecsteriority4 (Part 2),” along with Melissa Toogood (another Cunningham alum) and Marc Mann.

Both pieces, each a premiere, used the small dimensions of the Experimental Theater at Abrons Arts Center, which in less capable hands can feel cramped, to intriguing effect. “Bound” was in progress when the audience arrived, with Mr. Crossman sitting on a stool and a bulky contraption protruding from the back of his jacket. Strings radiated out from this curious apparatus — part costume, part installation — tethering him to the walls.

At the center of this asymmetrical web (designed by Hubert Lafore), Mr. Crossman could get tangled up or ignore the restraints or matter-of-factly remove or reconfigure them. He did all of the above, never making too much of potentially obvious metaphors. The strings could be traps — and they were, as he thrashed in the gap between two of them — or they could simply be lines in space, extending and intersecting the lines of the body.

“Bound” seemed like a loose collection of ideas left unresolved, perhaps intentionally. Ms. Bartosik offered the evening’s denser portion, dense in a wonderfully woozy, mysterious way. “Ecsteriority4 (Part 2)” (it will be joined by Part 1 in the 2016-17 season) starts with a blast of screeching sound and the three dancers hurtling themselves at the theater’s back wall: no building toward the act, just diving in.

That sense of struggle persists in full-throttle movement that fills the room, as the dancers enmesh and collide, often pinned down or stopped in their tracks. The initial noise uncompromisingly repeats, and is later replaced by a harsh-sounding wind. As in last year’s “You are my heat and glare,” Ms. Bartosik creates relationships that slip out from under themselves, transforming before you can name them. And why would you want to?