Revisiting a groundbreaking work

By Merilyn Jackson

Two duets dominate the three-piece Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane program that opened Thursday for a weekend run at the Painted Bride. Duet x 2 (1982) began the evening; Blauvelt Mountain closed it. Jones recently combined these works, along with a few others, under the title Body Against Body and presented them at the company's home, New York Live Arts (formerly Dance Theater Workshop). They look as groundbreaking and timeless as they did at their world premieres three decades ago.

Jones' huge following knows that his lover and choreographic partner, Arnie Zane, died of AIDS in 1988. The two co-choreographed the two other pieces, but Duet x 2 is solely Jones' work. In it, after rocketing out of a set of swinging doors, Antonio Brown and LaMichael Leonard Jr. abruptly halt and pace about. Soon they shuffle, soft-shoe, and spar with each other until they slam back out through the doors. Leonard returns, this time with the buttery-limbed Talli Jackson; they repeat many of the bruisingly strenuous phrases, but it seems more and more manipulative - as it goes with relationships.

Repetition and relationship mark Blauvelt Mountain too, with seriously playful skipping and prancing by Erick Montes Chavero. He is adorably deadpan as he walks over Jackson's chest and belly-bumps off the taller man's shoulder, Jackson putting enough spring into it to send Chavero bouncing like a rejected cat. Jackson directs a teasing ronde de jambe at the audience, ends with a daring leap into Chavero's arms - and then, darkness.

The stunner of the evening was the 1977 Continuous Replay, by Jones and Zane and revised in 1991 by Jones. It begins with a few quick-tempo, almost cartoonish bars of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring by Plunderphonics composer John Oswald. Jenna Riegel, "the clock," comes out naked and tight-fisted, elbows bent for work, lunging mechanically in profile across a band of light upstage. One by one, the others streak by her and join her machinations - mostly Nijinsky-like geometric phrases with the same driving intensity as Rite. Eventually they go haywire, donning bits and pieces of clothing, but Riegel keeps the time until she's made her way around the stage, ending abruptly in freeze frame.

A new full-length Rite of Spring by Jones and Anne Bogart premiered last month in Chapel Hill, N.C., and goes to BAM in September. Won't someone bring it here?

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