Abrons Arts Center, the Playhouse
466 Grand St. at Pitt St.
Thursday - Sunday through June 11, $20
In her artist statement, Brooklyn-based dancer and choreographer Ivy Baldwin explains, “Choreography is a way of processing the experiences of my life, my dancer’s lives, and the world around us. . . . I love making dance that is mysterious, darkly emotional, embraces absurdity, and explores twisted humor, violence, and human fragility. . . . As an artist, I strive to let my imagination rule the roost, embrace the chaotic and messy, and most importantly, to be present, open-minded, and brave.” Baldwin opens herself up bravely in her latest evening-length piece, Keen [No. 2], which continues at Abrons Arts Center June 8-11. Co-commissioned by Abrons Arts Center, the Chocolate Factory, and the Joyce as part of Joyce Unleashed, a program that presents experimental off-site works, it is a follow-up to Keen (Part 1), which began Baldwin’s exploration of mourning, grief, rituals, and loneliness following the loss of her longtime friend, dancer, and muse, Lawrence Cassella, who died on January 28, 2016, from the immune system disease HLH. Keen (Part 1) took place at the Glass House in Connecticut, where Anna Carapetyan, Eleanor Smith, Katie Workum, and Baldwin performed inside a glassed-in room (with the audience outside) and along the grounds. (You can see excerpts here.) Keen [No. 2] continues many of the same themes indoors at Abrons, where Baldwin will be joined by Smith and Workum in addition to Anna Adams Stark, Katie Dean, Marya Wethers, Dia Dearstyne, Heather Olson, Kay Ottinger, Tara Sheena, and Tara Willis. The set design is by Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen B. Nguyen, who contributed the twisted paper sculptures for Baldwin’s Oxbow at the BAM Fisher in November 2014 (the night we saw it, an ill Cassella was replaced by Luke Miller), with sound by Justin Jones, lighting by Chloe Z. Brown, and costumes by Mindy Nelson. But don’t expect overly sentimental movement filled with sadness; Baldwin favors mystery and absurdity, and, in a rare turn for her detailed perfectionism, has given the dancers the opportunity for structured improvisation. Thus, each show will be different, just as each day is different as people deal with personal loss in their own way.