The Art of Movement- Stephen Petronio Company
Article By: Lauren Royer
Cover Photo By: Sarah Silver
It's been over a week since I saw Stephen Petronio Company at the Washington Center for Performing Arts, I still don't know fully what I witnessed. That being said, I understood movement, touch, and expression. Petronio's work is described as 'powerfully modern landscapes for the senses'- collision of new music, visual art, and fashion. The 3 completely separate acts; 'Hardness 10' (2018), 'Excerpt From Goldberg Variations' (1986), and 'Untitled Touch' (2017) brought elevation to contemporary dance while still landing softly on the audience.
A world renowned choreographer, Stephen Petronio has been creating his visual landscapes for 30 years. In this time, he's created over 35 works for his company and has created works for globally recognized ballet companies, including William Forsythe’s Ballet Frankfurt, Deutsche Opera Berlin, Lyon Opera Ballet, Maggio Danza Florence, Sydney Dance Company, Norrdans, the Washington Ballet, The Scottish Ballet, and two works for National Dance Company Wales.
What struck me in the chest was the complete raw understanding (even with my new-to-modern dance level), of the power of touch. While the dancers made every move in sync with their partners, they held a high level of delicate grace with every touch. They were expressive and strong, yet quiet and acutely reserved. Regardless if it was woman with man, woman with woman, or man with man, the human need to feel something/someone was portrayed boldly. You ached with them. The choreography of life was flawlessly rehearsed and performed.
Two dancers that deserve a shout out, Bria Bacon and Elijah Laurant. I could not take my eyes off them. They not only performed beautifully and had me in awe, but contributed to painting raw visuals and concepts. Elijah was rocking some bold red lipstick and his beauty and strength inspired me. While my jaw was dropped and hand scratching my head, I picked up on a few themes; the awareness of 'self', racism, betrayal, love, attraction, homophobia, and anti-rape movements- all delivered powerfully in the expressions and reactions of the dancers. Not surprisingly, SPC serves as a safe haven for dancers and artists in NYC, and the company launched Petronio Residency Center. The PRC serves as a retreat from urban life and provides a space where creative exploration and process are the focus, while also providing resources to budding artists. Round of applause to Stephen Petronio Company.