News Ticker

Mimi Garrard and Friends

An old-school modern dance artist is not afraid of technology.

Austin Selden as he appeared in Mimi Garrard and Friends (Photo credit: Courtesy of Mimi Garrard Dance)

Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin, Critic

Mimi Garrard, a disciple of the genius choreographic innovator Alwin Nikolais, is still experimenting as her mentor did all his life.  Mimi Garrard and Dancers at the New York Live Arts displayed her creativity and a mind that is ever open to experimentation, combining simple, expressive solos—all premieres—with ever-changing video backdrops that mimicked, commented on and played on the movements performed by two expressive soloists Austin Selden and Demetia Hopkins-Greene.

Mr. Selden performed twice, first in “Lines” performed to quiet, almost droning, music by Matthew Daher.  Mr. Selden’s choreography for himself was very much in the loose-limbed style of Nikolais and Garrard, using subtle shoulder movements that were followed through with arms that stretched out and steps that at first appeared tentative, but built by the end of the short dance into definite tracks across the stage after much stopping and starting.  His upturned face seemed to be seeking answers in the distance.

In “Lines,” the videos were straightforward representations of Mr. Selden, clad in a loose-fitting red outfit, pausing his image in dramatic moments while in the second work, “Untranslatable,” directed by Ms. Garrard and choreographed by her and the very solid dancer, Ms. Hopkins-Greene (formerly of the Alvin Ailey troupe), the visual elements—produced by Ms. Garrard—were far more abstract, chaining together tiny images of the dancer in fantastical patterns like giant letters, globes, maps, etc., as the dancer, clad in a chic two-piece purple outfit designed by Mindy Nelson bounded about.  Snatches of poetry by Walt Whitman were cut and shifted about to provide an aural accompaniment to the steps which were vigorous with lots of quick direction changes.  Images of Ms. Hopkins-Greene floated about the screen making it seem as if she were dancing with clones, all equally talented.

Demetia Hopkins-Greene as she appeared in Mimi Garrard and Friends (Photo credit: Courtesy of Mimi Garrard Dance)

The final solo, also directed by Ms. Garrard, was for Mr. Selden who improvised for about ten minutes using movement themes and dramatic ideas suggested by each.

Called “A Single Hound,” it was danced to an Emily Dickinson poem recited in tiny sections by the dancer.  Again, the video element projected on the back wall added visual interest, but in this case not much meaning.

Mimi Garrard, no teeny-bopper, is to be admired for creating a program of thoughtful, if not thickly dramatic works and for passing on her legacy to younger dancers.  She was helped by the lighting of Christopher Annas-Lee who had to cope with both live and filmed images.

A full house of serious modern dance enthusiasts were rewarded by a thoughtful, if not provocative, evening of dance.

Mimi Garrard and Friends (November 12, 2017)

New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 212-924-0077 or visit http://www.newyorklivearts.org

For information, visit http://www.mimigarrarddance.com

Running time:  one hour and 15 minutes with no intermission

Joel Benjamin
About Joel Benjamin (229 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.