Vicky Shick’s “Not Entirely Herself” at The Kitchen

After spending many hours with the fabulous trio Arthur Aviles, Barbara Bryan and Eva Yaa Asantewaa, who patiently watched a long array of my Hunter College student choreographers and tenaciously deliberated their readiness and merit for an upcoming concert, I fretted my way in a sluggish cab to fellow Hunter faculty member, Vicky Shick’s gorgeous program at The Kitchen on Wednesday night.

Arriving, fried and just in time, I worried that I wouldn’t have the stamina to sit through any more dance viewing, especially Vicky’s special blend of subtlety and precision, but there is nothing like watching Jimena Paz on a small raised platform, in a kind of Gaultier-inspired black dress to rinse out the mental fatigue and put you back on high alert. She emits a constant electricity even when standing on a stool and juicing an orange and her ability to crumple and rebuild at every possible joint is endlessly compelling. Her compatriots Marilyn Maywald and Maggie Thom serve up ample tonic to the dance weary, as well.

Inside the quietly mysterious landscape of Not Entirely Herself these three distinct women inhabited singular realms in their performances, with Barbara Kilpatrick’s costume/scenic design characteristically separating the three.   Paz’s dress carries a kind of severity and softness in it and when she wraps a belt of paper mache balloons around her waist, we hear the amplified rustle of the rubbing paper as she shifts on the platform. Maywald in a flowery skirt and blouse, carries an air of expansive play at times repeatedly circling her arms in front of as if scooping up the air or perhaps sending it away. Her vibrancy compliments Thom’s calculated precision who, dressed in a majorette (or is it ringmaster?) style jacket, at one point places on white gloves and brings forward a white board with blurred photos of Maywald and Paz’s distorted faces. Here they are definitely not entirely themselves, perhaps captured in a blur of movement. When Thom flips the board, we see that the smaller photos are clear, the dancers faces have regained their sharp lines.

Chloe Brown’s lighting design provides a kind of pleasant abstraction, with occasional blackouts separating moments in a dreamy way.  Elise Kermani’s music and sound design compliment the pitch-perfect atmospheric work of her fellow collaborators with hinting sounds seeping in and out of my awareness. It is almost as if the work visually, physically, sonically treads at the point of losing consciousness, as if we are all pulled into that moment between waking and drifting into sleep where multiple selves might appear and recede and time and space observe different rules.

Neil Greenberg and Shick enter the space for what does feel like a brief coda and the energy shifts, a lightness arrives with their squeaking sneakers and slightly wry expressions and we’re offered a scrumptious little dance dessert.

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