The five dancers—Pierre Guilbault, Vanessa Knouse, Ruth Howard, Logan Pedon and Joshua Tuason—wore colorful, tight-fitting costumes with prints of faces and abstract designs on them and danced among three standing sculptures. Costumes and artwork were designed by Andrew Jordan. The music, which varied from rhythmic tooting to scratchy sounds to quiet, moody melodies was composed by Andreas Brade and played by Welf Dörr.
There was a mysterious coolness about “Close-Up” which, according to a program note by Ms. Cornfield, was meant to delve into the personalities of her five dancers, doing this by assigning very particular gestures—touching the face with a finger, holding a palm to the forehead, quivering hands, mimed pouring, nods—and facial expressions like appearing to laugh or shout to each dancer. She called these intimate, non-dance details, “zoom close-ups.” These quirky bits were additions to sleek, catlike movements that included lunges, low leg circling and the kind of balletic movements that were the centerpiece of Cunningham’s choreographic output.
The dancers also interacted with the three sculptures which were like upright flames, but in the cool colors of white, blue, turquoise and black. They were moved about to make various spatial effects on the stage, sometimes actually hiding the dancers’ movements, their limbs and eyes peeking out from behind.
There was partnering, too. The dancers pulled off each other and leaned on each other and did simple lifts. Often one dancer stood still while others moved on the other side of the stage area. A trio was pitted against a duet. This was how Ms. Cornfield kept the stage pictures flowing.
The luxuriously stretched out movements were nimbly performed by the dancers who were totally in synch with each other and with Ms. Cornfield while displaying individual personalities—the nimble one, the dramatic one, etc. They are all beautifully trained.
Lighting designer Jay Ryan’s pools of light made the most of the small performing space.
Soaking WET Dance Series
Ellen Cornfield/Cornfield Dance (May 18-21, 2017)
West End Theater, 263 West 86th Street, 2nd Floor, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 800-838-3006 or visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com
Running time: 50 minutes with no intermission