Patricia N. Nanon, Erica Furst and Emily Proctor: Photo by Ralph Stewart
Yard founder Patricia N. Nanon accepts flowers and a standing ovation after last Thursday's opening performance. Dancers Erica Furst (center) and Emily Proctor are both from the Julliard School. Photos by Ralph Stewart

Passion, strength, and beauty mark Yard premiere

By Julian Wise - June 29, 2006

The 2006 Patricia N. Nanon Residency Premiere at The Yard in Chilmark last weekend was a celebration of dynamic, kinetic movement as the dancers built an electric charge with their sleek physicality and vivid poise. The three original works were fitting tributes to the ongoing mission of The Yard: to promote the flowering of the artistic spirit by providing dancers with the opportunity to do their best work in a dynamic and supportive environment.

Hope Davis and Adam Hougland: Photo by Ralph Stewart
"Very Gently" with Hope Davis and Adam Hougland at the Yard residency premiere last weekend. Mr. Hougland choreographed the piece.

The first piece, choreographer David Ingram's "Very Gently," featured dancers Hope Davis and Adam Hougland in a tableau of passion and yearning. The piece began in sensual, intimate silence as the two disrobed each other down to spandex briefs, revealing sleek, toned bodies. The piece moved from the provocative to the lyrical as the two began to flow together like water, bringing a fluid physicality to their motions. The quick, powerful movements conveyed a passionate yearning and yet a tragic sense of separation, as the two came close to each other yet never fully connected. The piece culminated in a lingering kiss the two sustained while spinning and stepping across the floor.

Metamorphosis Two: Photo by Ralph Stewart
Philip Glass's music intertwined with Adam Hougland's choreography make "Metamorphosis Two" a powerful piece.

"Metamorphosis Two" by choreographer Adam Hougland electrified the stage with its athletic splendor. As the music of Philip Glass filled the building, the dancers entwined, lifting each other into the air and then breaking apart like charged molecules in a chemical reaction. Dancers Hope Davis, Erica Furst, Hana Ginsburg, David Ingram, Emily Proctor, Kevin Shannon, Rily Watts and Karell Williams alternated between solos of powerful and vivid grace, duets, trios, quartets, and finally all eight dancers together. With their young, lithe bodies at the peak of their physical prowess, the dancers matched the cascading piano notes with physical movements that made powerful leg lifts and twirls seem effortless. While the dance was a remarkable physical spectacle, at no point did the action overpower the grace that coursed through the piece. The slow ending featured the dancers rolling in slow motion across the floor and enacting dramatic scenes of intimacy and desolation.

Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday: Photo by Ralph Stewart
"Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday" was the last piece on the program, choreographed by Patricia N. Nanon.

Patricia N. Nanon's "Today, Tomorrow, Yesterday" featured the same eight dancers in a novel scenario. The dancers, accompanied by the sawing string sounds of Roger Sessions' "String Quartet No. 2," made use of the recessed stage platform embedded in the upper stage to depict a still dancer on a bench slowly undulating to life. Two dancers on the floor swayed in crouched symmetry in the dim blue light. The three rose in a delirious, staggering motion to gather in a dismal languor. Other dancers entered the stage to engage in frantic, gleeful antics. In one sprightly vignette, the dancers simulated driving cars. In another movement, all eight dancers stood in formation, spinning and slapping their hands on the floor in percussive unison. In certain moments the dancers moved in sleek, concerted unison, while in others they diffused into diverse motions.

The evening was a celebration of the vision of Ms. Nanon, who founded The Yard in 1973 with the dream of creating an environment where leading dance innovators could nurture their creative visions. The annual residency premiere bearing her name is an opportunity for premier choreographers to develop their latest projects and share them with the Island community. Ms. Nanon has produced new work annually at The Yard from the very beginning, continuing her lifetime pursuit of fostering creativity and innovation. The 2006 performance proved that her dream is alive and well.

Julian Wise is a frequent contributor to The Times, specializing in music, film, and the performing arts.