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Review by Seth Rogovoy

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Deborah Voigt Headlines Mahaiwe Gala
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Mother Maya in free talk at Sruti Yoga in Great Barrington, Mass., on Friday May 20 at 7pm

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Weekend Preview May 12-16
Cultural Highlights of the Berkshire Weekend

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Elaine and I grew up together, but only just recently met....

Berkshire Living to Cease Publication
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[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy

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[DANCE REVIEW] ASzURe and Artists at Jacob's Pillow

ASzURe & Artists
Doris Duke Studio Theatre
June 29-July 2, 2006

Over/Come (2006)
Short-Lived: Movement I (2006)
Lascilo Perdere: A Journey of Letting Go (2005)

Review by Seth Rogovoy, critic-at-large, Berkshire Living

As a frequent reviewer of many different performing art forms, probably my least favorite questions revolve around what I think are the best "new" artists in a particular genre, or what I've seen recently that most stands out. I prefer that my reviews speak for themselves, and I also prefer, generally, that they be taken in their own context, and not necessarily compared with or ranked with each other (unless I find some compelling reason that relating them will somehow prove illuminating).

All the more reason to celebrate a rare event such as the performance by ASzURe & Artists this week at Jacob's Pillow. In this case, I can without reservation say that this is one of my favorite cutting-edge ensembles, and one I believe is pointing the way toward a future for dance and the performing arts.

Probably the most vivid moment of this year's program was the very first tableau of the very first dance, Over/Come, when the lights went up on ten dancers frozen in space across and around the stage. You really needed nothing more than to lay eyes upon this ensemble of fresh, young, fascinating-looking dancers to fall in love with their originality and distinctiveness -- love at first sight (actually, it was love at first sight LAST summer, but it was love at first sight all over again this summer).

Over/Come itself was a terrific dance. Choreographed by Aszure Barton to songs by Andy Williams and Giorgio Conte, the crew had something of a West Side Story-era look and feel, yet Barton mined the seemingly sappy, innocent love songs for their creepy underbelly with mini-sketches of manic horror: hints of violence, date rape, and the like. Think David Lynch crossed with Andy Kaufman, if they were choreographers.

Short-Lived: Movement I opened with three dancers clad in black bathing-suit like outfits dancing to some very Central European-sounding music by the Cracow Klezmer Band (a favorite source of Barton's, much to her credit, as they are one of the most fascinating if not best-known of contemporary klezmer ensembles). The black-on-black of the dancers' outfits foregrounded against the black curtains gave the dancers' limbs a disembodied effect. A particular company vocabulary began to emerge during this dance, as gestures from the first dance were picked up and elaborated, specifically an electric twitchiness and its polar opposite, a sudden limp lifelessness, both of which echoed the dance between the music's violin and accordion.

The closing number, Lascilo Perdere: A Journey of Letting Go, was an elaboration of a dance first seen last summer at the Pillow (see last year's review), in which the dance alternates with filmed images, culminating in an oddly beautiful duet between a man and woman biting his tongue.

Barton is not afraid to give her dancers free reign to express themselves within the confines of her overall storytelling -- in itself a nearly revolutionary aspect of her work. Her dancers respond by throwing themselves into her challenging works with athletic fervor, emotional commitment, and a joyous and knowing sensuality that never stoops to sentimentality.

If this is the future of dance, I want to be there.

--Seth Rogovoy, critic-at-large, Berkshire Living

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