Sean Curran Company January 14, 2011
Sean Curran Dance at Cerritos
By Glen Creason
It always energizes all my senses to witness the thought provoking art form of dance which without a single word can create great philosophical ponderings in the audience. At its best dance can go places mere words or even music cannot enter and the results of great choreography can be something that can take you a long, thoughtful way. Cerritos is very fortunate to have a perfect venue for modern dance and the good taste in the front offices to choose the best of the best in the form. There is yet to be a single dud in the dance shows in the big hall and most have ranked at the top of great performances on Center drive.
A small but erudite crowd at the Performing Arts Center witnessed dance-plus at the performance of the Sean Curran Company on Friday evening as the dancer/choreographer/artistic director Curran used spoken word and eclectic but perfectly chosen music to create three distinctly different but equally fascinating works. The first, “Aria/Apology” juxtaposed a lilting musical line by George Friedrich Handel with matter of fact admissions of terrible acts recorded on the “Apology Line,” a sort of telephone confessional maintained in 1980’s New York by conceptual artist Alan Bridge. Murder, rape, bigotry, betrayal, incest and shame blast from speakers as the five dancers, clad in plain underclothes moved in synchronicity between the baroque sweetness of Handel and the modern horror in the confessions. It was humans at their best moving next to humans at their worst.
Curran could have quit right there and had a good show but part two, “Social Discourse” was also amazing using a more stark costume design and the beautifully melodic music from the album “The Eraser” by Thom Yorke of Radiohead. This was simply a case of two art forms enhancing each other in an artistically symbiotic performance. The dancing seems to stretch the genre out literally to yoga asanas much more so than traditional ballet forms. The six dancers formed into pairs and then groups of three of forming one unit which spoke to the lyrics of yearning for a true understanding of a new global society and the need to work in some kind of harmony.
The final piece, the West Coast premiere of “Left Exit” was the most provocative of the evening featuring nine dancers representing the great religions of the world and punctuated by spoken word commentary by professor Cornel West of Princeton University from the documentary “Examined Life” by Astra Taylor and the music of John Cage. Every dancer was beautiful but my personal favorites were Elizabeth Coker Giron and David Gonsier who balanced grace with an athleticism that made the piece sing. Curran himself comes out for a pithy solo which distills a discussion on the need for or absence of religion in modern life. This debate on God and atheism or plain lack of interest in spirituality is brought to flesh and blood life in Curran’s work. This was not relaxing movement in space but challenging and highly stimulating stuff that shone from the Cerritos stage in a memorable winter’s evening.