Fierce athleticism, quicksilver intelligence, stylish new music and subversive fashion combine in the dances of Stephen Petronio, one of New York’s hippest and most distinctive contemporary choreographers.
Dance St. Louis and the Edison Theatre’s OVATIONS! Series will present the Stephen Petronio Company in concert Jan. 23-25.
The program features Petronio’s new City of Twist, inspired by the rhythms of life in New York and set to music by performance art legend Laurie Anderson, as well as the poignant solo Broken Man and the wildly chaotic Strange Attractors, Part II.
City of Twist is a suite of dances inspired by the people of New York City. It was begun before September 11 but was profoundly influenced by it.
When it made its world premiere in October 2002 at New York’s Joyce Theater, Petronio commented, “I wanted to give a sense of New York at this point in time. An upside-down, tumultuous place where there’s a lot of sadness, but where it’s wacky and funny as well.”
A signature of Petronio’s work is that he combines his intensely physical choreography with vivid sound and visual design created by other cutting-edge artists. City of Twist is set to an original score for viola, cello, bass guitar, keyboards and percussion by Laurie Anderson, one of the world’s premier performance artists, who in 2003 became NASA’s first artist-in-residence.
Costumes are by Tara Subkoff of Imitation of Christ, a group that calls itself “a creative collection of social engineers” and whose efforts include one-of-a-kind fashion pieces that resurrect old clothing by stitching it into new designs.
Broken Man is a tour de force solo for Petronio himself, an expressive, emotional piece that The New York Times said “communicates a pervasive sadness and an uncertainty about life that cut to the heart of memories and fears generated by” September 11.
Strange Attractors takes its title from chaos theory, the study of ever-changing complex systems that appear to be random but in fact are following patterns.
“I used the concept of strange attractors in the broadest sense,” Petronio told The Times in October 2000, at the work’s world premiere. “I would establish a focal point — a dancer, a phrase of movement, an event — and build more dancing around it. Then I would erase the focal point, or I would shift it across the stage so it’s elusive and almost unidentifiable.”
Petronio was born in Newark, N.J. He was the first male dancer of the Trisha Brown Company from 1979-1986, and founded his own company in 1984. Dance St. Louis and Edison Theatre’s OVATIONS! Series previously presented the company in 1995.
Performances begin at 8 p.m. Jan. 23-24 and at 2 p.m. Jan. 25. Tickets are $28 for adults; $23 for students, seniors and WUSTL faculty and staff; and $14 for WUSTL students.
Tickets are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office, 935-6543; the Dance St. Louis Box Office, 534-6622; and all MetroTix outlets.
For more information, call 935-6543.