Monday, September 27, 2010

Richmond Times-Dispatch: 'Dance review: Stefanie Batten bland/sbb birdlegs'

[Stefanie Batten bland/sbb birdlegs]

Published: September 26, 2010
“Every now and then, a dance company comes along that has that certain 'wow' factor that just reels you in from the first movement and keeps you on the edge of your seat until the final phrase. The Paris-based company of New York native Stefanie Batten Bland is just that company.
“Bland's movement is fresh. Nothing feels familiar or recycled. Bland and her company of five uniquely strong dancers are firmly grounded in dance technique, but they do not exploit their dance skills for the sake of empty virtuosity. It is employed for the better good of the work -- and in this work, gravity appears to be optional, just another resource to be mastered and incorporated where needed.

“The greater part of the evening was given over to Bland's new work, 'Terra Firma.' The piece features six dancers, seven sail-like fabric panels suspended from the ceiling, and the music of John Adams, incorporating natural sounds of water and wind.

“In Friday's post-performance chat, Bland indicated that she is a visual person who starts with pictures. For 'Terra Firma,' she began with pictures of boat people, immigrants, sailboats. For Bland, it's a dance about hope: 'Perhaps we might get there, wherever that place is.' For some in the audience, it was a heart-rending work about humanity's pain, and suffering in the world.”

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