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



Laura Peterson finds splendor in the grass in WOODEN (photo by Steven Schreiber)

145 Sixth Ave. at Dominick St.
Through November 12, $20

This month several dancer/choreographers have been putting on unique performances in transformed spaces. In SHOW, Maria Hassabi and Hristoula Harakas wound their way across the floor of the Kitchen, right in the middle of the audience. In The Thank-you Bar at New York Live Arts, Emily Johnson/Catalyst invites people through a long corridor into a dark room where they can sit on small cushions and later gather around a kiddie pool filled with leaves. And in Wooden at HERE, Laura Peterson has cut the usual stage in half, with one side covered by live grass that has been turning brown since the run began November 4. Instead of the usual rafters, the audience sits on long wooden benches on a hard white surface amid thick tree branches hanging from the ceiling. Peterson, Kate Martel, Edward Rice, and Janna Diamond move slowly on the grass, gently falling and rolling, Amanda K. Ringger’s lighting casting multiple shadows on the walls. The natural beauty of the piece is enhanced by the intoxicating smell of the outdoors and interstitial, animalistic solos by rotating guest artists Shannon Gillen, Meredith Fages, Luke Gutgsell, and Asimina Chremos in a makeshift hallway. Following an intermission in which the audience must leave the theater, the space is reversed, the benches now on the soft grass, the dancers performing on the harder floor. Whereas the first half, “Ground,” featured beautifully mellifluous organic movement, the second half, “Trees,” is much harsher, the choreography more robotic, the dancers wearing kneepads to protect them as they fall hard to the floor. Soichiro Migita’s sound design changes as well, now more techno-based, blips and beeps replacing the smoother sounds of the first section. Although the general comparison might be obvious, setting the warm, organic environment against a cold, computerized soulless society, and it occasionally does get repetitive, Wooden is a compelling work whose elements are, appropriately, biodegradable. To read our twi-ny talk with Peterson, click here.

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