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Ones and all
Marcus Schulkind at Green Street

Marcus Schulkindís concerts at Green Street Studios last weekend comprised eight solo dances and lasted about an hour. The evening was satisfying in a way that eludes discussion. Once you note that the room was full of terrific dancers, luscious movement, thoughtful choreography, and real music, you just want to go away by yourself and savor it all.

Marcus Schulkindís dance has radiated out into the world through his former students and dancers, some of whom returned to perform in this concert. Schulkind gave up his own company nearly four years ago, but he hasnít abandoned dance. He continues to teach at Green Street, where heís a founding member, and he spearheaded the efforts to secure the Studiosí space in Central Square. He dedicated the solo concert, a benefit for the Studios, to "Friends Remembered and Gone," another gesture of his continuing commitment to the community.

Schulkindís movement style comes across as a modern descendant of modern dance. His work seems to fuse the lyrical humanism of the Doris HumphreyĖJosé Limón branch of the family with the fevered expressionism of the Martha Grahams. And thereís more than a little ballet added to the blend. Looking at the miniatures on this program, youíre exquisitely conscious of the dancersí physicality, not just their muscles or their shapes but the way the movement is making them feel. Or perhaps the way their feeling makes the movement.

Schulkindís expressiveness seemed most fully built up when Lorraine Chapman danced Let Bygones Be (2002), which he dedicated to his father. The music was the second movement of Dvorákís Piano Quintet, a romantic selection with sudden excursions into folk-dance rhythms. Chapman (who gives a concert of her own work this weekend at Green Street) began with some classroom stuff: tendu port de bras, high battements to the side, turns, lunges. But just when her movement seemed to settle into something academically familiar, it would twist or curl into another direction, or slide way beyond its expected finishing point. Every new development passed into another without hesitation.

The folk-dance music led her into fast beats, hops, skips, and jetés. As the music returned to its "A" theme, Chapman seemed to become distracted by some intricate gestures her hands and fingers were making. There were more big movements, and a strange moment when she seemed to be stuck to the floor, possibly caught between the opposing strands of the music. Then she released into space again as the music ended.

In Courting the Hippogriff, Schulkindís new work, Elizabeth Waterhouse danced to the Rondo from Beethovenís Opus 28 ("Pastoral") Piano Sonata. She swooped and whirled, really free in the space, in a little essay I thought of as a ballet with surprises. Waterhouse, who gives a three-dimensional amplitude to the straightest balletic line, will join William Forsytheís new company in Germany after the first of the year.

Ruth Shiman-Hackett reprised the 1996 Slanting Sun, which is set to Brahmsís Intermezzo Opus 117 No. 1. With plush sculptural scoops and deep sideways steps and very slow stretches aimed into the distance, she matched the musicís barely remembered waltz.

There were old favorite Schulkind pieces, with references to the songs that accompanied them. In an excerpt from Through a Glass Darkly (1992), Clarence Brooks reached out and strained backward, took a few steps or turns and then hovered on his toes. He seemed pressed from outside himself into a state of instability, to the Paul Simon song "Iím All Right." Nicole Pierce labored and stood firmly, then rolled away on the floor ("Brother, Can You Spare a Dime") in a dance from Triptych (1989).

Kate Digby slowly reached and turned, slapped the floor, and tipped way back on her knees in Job (1977), to Randy Newmanís bitterly ironic "Godís Song (Thatís Why I Love Mankind)." Jeanine Durning seemed to be a girl at a party very long ago in Cradle Song (1994), to Gottschalk.

Collectively, these older dances conveyed a sensibility burdened with cares but strong enough to accept them. New York choreographer Jeanine Durning seemed more resistant, tighter, spikier, in her own dance from 1998, Dissolve (Górecki). Drawn repeatedly into a vortex of her own spinning and circular running patterns, she stretched into archaic-looking postures, seemed to be trying to scratch off her own skin, muttered some words with her mouth covered. Bent almost double, she reached forward so far she almost toppled; then she walked off on her toes. I thought of her as a teller of unspeakable tales ó past or future.

Issue Date: December 17 - 23, 2004
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