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A fully engaging 'Partial View'

Neil Greenberg's perspective on the human body and movement looks sublime at every whip, turn and angle.

July 02, 2005|Victoria Looseleaf | Special to The Times

Microcosmic worlds of ever-shifting moves, including twisting torsos, ardent foot-slapping and breathtaking backward bends, seemed to orbit through space on their own trajectories as New York-based Dance by Neil Greenberg presented two West Coast premieres at the Skirball Cultural Center on Thursday.

Choreographed by former Merce Cunningham dancer Greenberg, the stunning, heroically performed "Partial View" offered refractive perspectives on the human body in motion as four indefatigable dancers articulated and repeated combinations of movements, many of them seen in Greenberg's preceding companion piece, "partial view solo."

In that work, the choreographer -- wearing Bermuda shorts and a polo shirt, as if he were about to water the lawn -- swept an arm here, swiveled a hip there and beat the air with his fists in a 10-minute solo set to the (taped) sounds of an acoustic/electric harp score by Zeena Parkins. Shoulders dipping, fingers splayed, he was Petrouchka unplugged, his bent legs on the verge of collapse in this prelude that heralded the arrival of the extended storm-tossed quartet.

Prerecorded videos by John Jesurun, displayed on two screens at the rear of the stage, abetted "Partial View," includeing tableaux of bleached-out trees, a Hockneyish swimmer and gobs of stuff exploding in the air.

There was also a live video feed of the dancers -- Justine Lynch, Paige Martin, Luke Miller and Colin Stilwell -- that bloomed with kaleidoscopic perspectives: Busby Berkeley-like images shot from above yielded to close-ups of hands and feet. The dancers, constantly entering and exiting the stage and never touching, their faces blank, became components of three- or four-part images as the cameras' locations changed.

Parkins' score was augmented too. African-style drumming proved a leitmotif for recurring body-thrashing elements. An out-of-control flute might signal casbah-esque hip-swaying. And Philip Glass-style marimba music could crash into blocks of intermittent silence and fades-to-blacks in Michael Stiller's lighting.

With more false endings than a Beethoven symphony, the propulsive work teemed with variations on the focus-changing theme. A regal Miller, his elongated limbs often a kinetic tangle, stomped the floor like a caged bull in a foreground scene; the women, receding in the distance, executed primal lunges.

As a unit, the four marched, automaton-like, in an unknown quest as this ceremony of sometimes apocalyptic affect bled into darkness. Lives finally spent, no matter the view.

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