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Jack Anderson

Dash Debut

The Dash Ensemble
Joyce SoHo, 155 Mercer Street, SoHo
December 4-6, 2009 (closed)
Information: www.joyce.org
Reviewed by Jack Anderson. December 6, 2009

Gregory Dolbashian's new Dash Ensemble made an ambitious debut with "Sundowning," a choreographically forceful and strongly danced hour-long work that commanded attention from its opening moments when Christopher Ralph, Jonathan Windham, and Antonio Brown lurched onto the stage with big kicks, fluttering hands, and firm gestures of support when Brown unexpectedly kept falling.

The men were joined by Caitlin Fennick, Alexandra Johnson, Marie Doherty, and Shakirah Stewart. Striking visual and kinetic images followed: for instance, contrasts between confidence and hesitation; the brandishing of a man's jacket like a bullfighter's cape, and movements backward across the stage as if blown by winds. There were struggles to move and struggles to speak, all involving crabbed, cramped gestures.

Yet, despite such attention-getting moments, the production became monotonous. Its program notes may suggest why. Dolbashian stated that he sought to "blur the line between the rational and psychotic mind" and explained that the term "Sundowning" refers to "a state of confusion at the end of the day and into the night, often leading to a state of increased agitation, activity, and even borderline demented behavior."

But the dance never depicted a clear and steady progression from the "rational" to the "psychotic" that would make the characters' physical and psychological decline increasingly terrifying or heart-wrenching. The sun seemed to have set on these people from their first appearances. Yet their turmoil looked genuine enough to make one wonder what Dolbashian might make his Dash Ensemble dash to next.

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