Tere O'Connor's 'Bleed' is, yes, a convoluted dance
By Merilyn Jackson, For The Inquirer
Posted: March 30, 2014
FringeArts brought in Tere O'Connor Dance's New York hit Bleed for a weekend run at its Columbus Boulevard venue and while reviewing the Thursday opening, I was about to use the word convoluted - then I referred to my last review of the company in 1999.
Convoluted was in there, too - as was lead dancer Heather Olson, who has been with O'Connor's company since 1997.
Olson, as lead dancer in a Kelly green dress, came on sashaying to the industrial cricks and cracks of James Baker's score. Cynthia Oliver and the other 10 dancers soon joined Olson, at first limping in on tiptoe, but soon boldly crossing every boundary of dance, limited by neither time nor genre nor geography.
Save for Olson in green, Walter Dunderville costumed everyone in genderless blacks and grays.
To Chris Gross' pseudo-baroque cello chords, dancers dipped their toes forward or clasped hands in the air as they turned in barely perceptible Renaissance courtliness. But 16th-century mannerisms quickly turned tribal with bent knees and stomping feet. Before long, rituals either childish or spiritual spun out before your eyes.
Couples gripped wrists as if about to play motorboat, then didn't. Silas Reiner and others mimed jump-rope for a beat or two, and jumping jacks and squats clicked you back to aerobics, eurhythmics, gymnastics.
While Olson often made her limbs stiff as Pik-Up Stiks, Reiner looked more feminine - his liquid upper arms rippled seductively as they would never have done when he danced with Merce Cunningham.
In the talk-back, O'Connor cited Cunningham as a major influence, and you do see it in his carefully designed dancescapes and spectacular, rapidly changing synchronized sections.
Devynn Emory, in deep lunge, was as stealthy as a boy stalking an animal. The ashen-curled Oisin Monaghan issued a blood-curdling soprano vowel as others chased him. They end, as if at the bottom of a cistern, they circle around, mouths agape as they groped upward toward a dwindling light.