Magazine article Dance Magazine

Axis Stretches Repertory

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Axis Stretches Repertory

Article excerpt

AXIS STRETCHES REPERTORY

AXIS DANCE COMPANY

COWELL THEATER, FT. MASON SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA JUNE 22-24, 2000

REVIEWED BY RACHEL HOWARD

Though becoming ever more mainstream, the burgeoning genre of integrated dance--in which able-bodied dancers perform alongside dancers who are disabled--still has a thing or two to prove: It must demonstrate that what they do is dance and not therapy; that the work belongs on the concert stage, and that it can be of professional quality. Like London's inspiring CandoCo Dance Company, Oakland-based Axis has adopted these lofty goals and taken on the daring strategy of commissioning works from established choreographers. In the company's first all-commissioned home season, that bold plan paid off beautifully with the West Coast premiere of Bill T. Jones's Fantasy in C Major.

It's clear that Jones invested much time exploring just what these seven dancers could do--quite a lot, actually--and then crafted a piece based on their potential vocabulary. It turns out that wheelchairs are ideal for whipping through space and making kaleidoscopic formations. Fantasy, set to the brisk Schubert concerto, is therefore a deeply geometric and elegant piece. It is also pure dance: gestural, as in the shaking heads that so nicely mirror the music's tinkling scales, and dramatic, as in the shifting dynamics that come with unconventional partnerships. It is propulsive, at times sending dancers leaping and skipping, balancing on the arm of another dancer's zooming wheelchair in the equivalent of classical partnering. And it takes risks. At one point, Uli Schmitz tumbles onto the floor, and Stephanie McGlynn assumes his chair like a throne. Later, the two roll together in a surprisingly graceful duet.

If Joe Goode's sarcastic Jane Eyre was less successful, its shortcomings had nothing to do with Axis. …

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