Scott Wells & Dancers at Counterpulse, June 3, 2012

9 Jun

Scott Wells and Dancers appeared at Counterpulse over two weekends, with the last performance on June 3.  Wells has been presenting seasons in San Francisco since 1992 using small settings where the extreme  physicality and athleticism of the ensemble impacts the viewer most strongly.  On a typical proscenium stage with a larger audience space, response would be diminished.

Two numbers were performed: At Ease and Parkour Deux, both listed as 2012 creations, six dancers in the first and nine in the second.  Both pieces were utterly reliant on trust amongst the performers, a clear understanding of individual impulse with accompanying  acute response and timing.  The women were frequently called upon to catch and balance each other and the men,
usually in transit over a shoulder, the arc of movement,  pause and balance before bounding  on ward a wonder to observe.

Parkour Deux exhibited elements of classical ballet broadened to guffaw status, the ballet barres consisting of various forms of acrobatic equipment.  This equipment was  later used as obstacles in somersaults, balancing points, and barricades against possible injury because the performers hurled themselves against the unadorned walls of Counterpulse’s compact little performance space.  Whether a solitary figure in motion, two in contact or multiple actions , the spectacle was mesmerizing watching participants whose physiques ranged from the willowy to the short and tightly knit.

Miriam Wolodarski’s command of  French, accent and cadence added to the sarcasm of Parkour Deux, particularly with her evident awareness of classical technique , a proficiency not shared by all the ensemble members.  Long time member Rajendra Serber lent a subtle insouciant timing to his assignment in both pieces.

As someone who loves classical ballet technique, I  have a hard time classifying contact improvisation as a dance genre.  With Parkour Deux and the timing of Scott Wells’ ensembles, such reservations usually vanish in the face of fascination and the ensemble’s timing.


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