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Dance Review

Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers in 20 year retrospective of Lin's works with four Philadelphia premieres and a world premiere by Olive Prince

Dance Review

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Brian Cordova and Liu Mo in Kun-Yang Lin's The Song that Can't be Sung, photo by L. Browning Photography

By Merilyn Jackson

For The Inquirer

Posted Nov. 8, 2013

At the Painted Bride Thursday night, the artists of Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers bared heart and soul combining them with superb technique throughout. Of this retrospective evening of dances choreographed by Lin (first seen in New York through the 90’s to 2001,) four received Philadelphia premieres. Lin moved the company to Philadelphia just five years ago, building it to the highly regarded Philadelphia fixture it now is, and with a studio called Chi-Mac on 9th Street just south of Pat’s Steaks.

Liu Mo – whose background is in Chinese classical dance and who has only been training in contemporary dance with Lin for about a year -- takes the powerful solo, Moon Dance (1993,) originally danced by Lin. Stepping onstage, he instantly put me in a thrall that lasted to the show’s final moment. Bare-chested and wearing a long muslin skirt, he angled wing-like arms, jerking them into flying motions. With astonishing balance, he ever so slowly dipped his head to the floor in a perpendicular arabesque. Then, mercurially, he changed direction, channeling Lin’s intensity while making the dance his own.

Lin and another male originally danced Run Silent, Run Deep, to Les Tambours du Bronx’ music and narrated poems. Here with Evalina Carbonell bursting onto the stage, skittering in jarring spurts of movement, the evening’s thrill ride continued. Vuthy Ou joins her and the pace grows more ferocious with daring leaps, lifts and catches that then slowed as she sensuously slithered downward along Ou’s body to his ankles.

Yet another revelation, Rachael Hart stuttered across the stage as if with a broken wing, struggling to stay in flight and mournfully dauntless in her trajectory in 2000’s Butterfly to Un Bel Di.

Former company member, Olive Prince, made to dust [cq]. (Disclosure: I’ve taken barre class with some of these dancers including Prince -- the last in August, days before she gave birth to son Noah.)  She has the company rush offstage and reenter to pose and slouch away, shoulders sloping, bodies angling into and out of stunning groupings. Prince later soloed in Lin’s 1998 Renaissance, exquisitely emerging like a chrysalis from her cocoon of red netting.

Mo’s feminine litheness melted into Brian Cordova’s more masculine strength in 1999’s The Song that Can’t be Sung, a gut-wrenching duet of forbidden love. 2001’s Shall we…?, [cq] a full-company tango, has a cheekiness best expressed by Jessica Warchal-King and a drunkenness best articulated by Eiren Shuman. Flawlessly danced with spiky footwork and sexy thigh-brushing barridas, this was no milonga triste, but a happy ending.

Painted Bride, 230 Vine St. Friday 8 p.m, Saturday 2p.m. and 8 p.mTickets: $35 for afternoon show; $50 and $100, evening Information: 215-925-9914 or


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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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