Assessment: Dancing Bodies That Have Multitudes

Can choreographers — or anybody, truly — ever make one thing solely new? Fully their possess? With her collection “I Am Also,” the dancer and choreographer Molly Poerstel reminds us that every single artist is a constellation of influences, a messy composite of other people today and previous activities. In dance, that entanglement is in particular intimate, deeply rooted in the human body. As Poerstel writes of her hottest perform, “I Am Also – Monte,” referring to the lots of choreographers with whom she has danced: “Their get the job done exists in my body, as a result, this operate is an extension of their minds and bodies.”

The collection considers how a dancer’s previous seeps into the existing and, inevitably, into the perform of collaborators. When a choreographer, say, would make a solo for a dancer, what they make alongside one another could be found as their respective histories, multiplied. By means of this lens, what could feel like a easy kind — the solo — grows exponentially more intricate.

Whose operate is it? The place does the choreographer finish and the dancer commence? How do their identities and interpersonal link — in the situation of “Monte,” as a white woman and a Black man (Monte Jones) who have been mates for 25 many years — more complicate this marriage?

These inquiries came to thoughts as I watched “Monte” in its premiere on Wednesday at Abrons Arts Centre. The about 45-moment show stars the riveting and candid Jones, an improviser and dwelling dancer who achieved Poerstel when they have been fellow dance majors in university. In excess of the previous 20 a long time, Poerstel has labored with choreographers including Jeanine Durning, Juliana F. Might and RoseAnne Spradlin Jones has danced with Ronald K. Brown, Ana King and Marlies Yearby, amongst some others. The method notes acknowledge these influences and their presence in the get the job done. (Jones and Poerstel are credited with choreography, Poerstel with notion and way.)

Seated on the basement theater’s sunken phase, the viewers faces a low balcony and the stairs that frame it. Jones rushes in, managing down one particular established of stairs, to a pulsing score that features samples from James Blake’s looping, hypnotic “I Thoughts.” What feels like stream-of-consciousness motion flows from his lanky frame: liquid house footwork notes of Latin social dance the churning arms and undulating torso common from Brown’s repertory. As the piece progresses, Jones dons a mask and voluminous pink cape and strides in circles about the two-tiered stage: up a single staircase, across the balcony, down the other side. With both of those off-the-cuff ease and live-wire tenacity, he attracts us into his orbit.

At one position Poerstel joins for a fleeting duet, crawling across the ground in an agitated, headbanging sequence. In a tender lull, she and Jones lie nonetheless, heads touching, before she quickly disappears. Her presence is more apparent in the work’s overall construction. Like lots of of the artists with whom she has danced, she will make intriguing, in some cases jarring use of the two repetition and non sequiturs. Here, cyclical structures and unexpected shifts of light or seem seize the persistence and fallibility of memory, the way it endures yet morphs.

“Monte” does not take care of the inquiries of authorship it raises nor, I think, does it intend to. Instead, it leans into the porousness of the partnership amongst choreographer and dancer, involving collaborators, concerning friends. In the conclusion, as Jones shares fragmented tales from his lifestyle, he also expands that idea outward: We are the folks we have known, even people who physically are no for a longer time in this article. They, far too, are existing in the dance.

I Am Also Monte

By means of Saturday at Abrons Arts Centre, Manhattan