This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



john Jasperse’s latest, playing at the Joyce June 16-19, features a pair of bathing beauties and much more (photo by Sylvio Dittrich)


Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Ave. at 19th St.
June 16-19, $10-$39

For more than twenty years, Manhattan-based dancer-choreographer Johnn Jasperse has been creating unique works that explore both the human body and the psyche. Commissioning experimental music and often incorporating multimedia and multidisciplinary elements, Jasperse is always up to challenging himself as well as the audience. In 2007 he presented the environmentally conscious MISUSE LIABLE TO PROSECUTION at BAM, which was trashy fun, and last May he staged the very intimate BECKY JODI AND JOHN at Dance Theater Workshop. Back at the Joyce this week for the first time in ten years, Jasperse will be holding the New York premiere of TRUTH, REVISED HISTORIES, WISHFUL THINKING, AND FLAT OUT LIES, featuring a commissioned score by Hahn Rowe played live by the International Contemporary Ensemble.

Erin Cornell and John Jasperse go at it in the choreographer’s latest work (photo by Sylvio Dittrich)

Review: In his latest evening-length piece, John Jasperse explores the social, political, and personal aspects of the history of performance, with forays into adagio tango, the flappers fad, classical ballet, and experimental contemporary dance. He mixes fantasy with reality, truth with fiction, playing with illusion while testing the audience’s patience and its ability to acknowledge quality. At one point Neal Beasley, Erin Cornell, Eleanor Hullihan, and Kayvon Pourazar stumble about, unable to complete a move correctly, while at another they slide gracefully across the stage, in total control of their bodies. Jasperse makes occasional appearances as well, serving as comic relief, including one stint as a lousy magician. The glitz and glamour of the first part, which features sequined outfits, a colorful beach backdrop, and songs by Ginuwine and Barry White, is offset by the much more serious second act, with everything bathed in bright white, from the International Contemporary Ensemble, who play Hahn Rowe’s beautiful score live onstage, to the doily lampshades the four dancers and Jasperse don during a long, nearly motionless section following a scene of unexpected violence. While a handful of people left early on opening night (June 16), many more gave the company a rousing standing ovation at the end of a challenging, diverse, exciting, and intriguing night of unusual dance theater.

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