The difference between Julie Nathanielsz and Heloise Gold was readily apparent in this sequel to last year's dance concert of the same name, but you didn't need to study their moves to see it; all you had to do was look at their eyes. In "Yo, Genesis," Nathanielsz kept hers looking outward but without connecting to anything around her; their glassy stare was that of one whose attention is trained inward. Throughout the 25-minute solo's progression from slow, tentative movements to more complex steps, gestures, and combinations, Nathanielsz looked to be monitoring every stride, pivot, turn of the wrist, twist of the hip, sweep of the arm – testing her range of motion and gauging what her body was capable of. The concentration in her gaze bespoke an artist intent on studiously investigating her limits and pushing past them. By contrast, Gold appeared in "Hips and Jet Streams," a duet with Elaine Dove, making eye contact with the audience from the get-go. As she worked her way toward the crowd, at points extending one foot to the side with a sultry kick, her twinkling eyes seemed to ask, "Did you see what I just did there?" It was the look of an artist perpetually delighted by this thing called movement and how it manifests itself in her being, for whom play is essential to her art.
As the program progressed, the two dancers' core characteristics kept announcing themselves. In the film "Black Stockings," Gold was shown on a metal structure in a farmyard and at the water's edge on a beach, her feet playfully making sounds and rhythms. Then, she and Jason Phelps gave opera a gleeful goose in "The Sound That Shook the World," wherein the two, identical in patterned skirts and ruby-red lips, attempted arias, emoted excessively, and delivered the definitive operatic ode to crackers. "The Backup Dancer: Bits and Acts From the Night Train," choreographed by Margery Segal, similarly deconstructed dance moves associated with Philly soul from the Seventies, but after Segal and Nathanielsz provided sensual variations on those familiar swiveling hips and swinging arms to the Three Degrees' "When Will I See You Again?" and the Stylistics' "You Are Everything" (their connection to both the music and each other here was electric), the soul gave way to jackhammer percussion and their smooth moves devolved into herky-jerky imitations, like they'd lost their groove and didn't know how to get it back.
Still, for all the differences between the dancers and their dances, Nathanielsz and Gold were really doing the same thing here: showing us an awareness of how we move and how sound can move us to move. They just did it from opposite ends of the spectrum.
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