Ohad Naharin’s influence is palpable in Andrea Miller’s I Can See Myself in Your Pupil, which Gallim Dance performed last week at the Joyce SoHo. But Blush, in its New York premiere, is uniquely Miller’s, and luckily for the audience, the six dancers of Gallim pour their hearts and bodies into every moment of this exhilarating 50-minute piece.
In a post-performance talk on Friday, Andrea Miller explained that Blush was inspired in part by the 1992 Japanese film Tokyo Decadence, and much of the movement that she and the dancers explored while creating the piece stemmed from three words: catch, escape, and rescue. Although these words didn’t always come to mind while watching the performance, Blush is so dense with emotion and intensely physical movement that they are surely at the root of the work. Through raw, physical power and a wide spectrum of emotions, the dancers investigate themes of intimacy, instability, fear, and tenderness.
The three women and three men, dressed in simple black costumes designed by Jose Solis, are covered in white body paint from head to toe, creating a cold, harsh, and haunted look. Set to a range of music – from Chopin to Radiohead to Wolf Parade – Blush opens with the bare-chested Moo Kim moving robotically under dim light. He crawls across the floor and arches and curls his torso, gaining momentum as the solo progresses. In the majority of the work, however, the dancers interact as they explore one another’s space, sometimes invading it or sometimes being invited in. Staring intently at the audience, the women walk slowly to the urgent sounds of Pimmon, then tilt their heads back and run their pinky finger along the length of their necks. It’s a chilling image that appears throughout the piece. Moments later, two men swing Francesca Romo by her ankles and wrists, taking turns catching her as she violently flails her limbs and stretches her mouth in a scream. Blush‘s emotional climate changes from cold to warm as the interactions build and kinder emotions fill the space. The women carefully place their shins on the men’s chests, and later this image is reversed. Troy Ogilvie appears exhausted and anguished as she dances theatrically to Chopin, but Jason Fordham is there to support her. Romo gently uses her foot to rotate Dan Walczak, who is curled up on the floor. Harsh, violent movement at the beginning of the piece has been replaced with achingly tender moments.
photo by Christopher Duggan
Much of Miller’s movement initiates from the chest (the dancers fluidly arch and hunch their sternums), quite literally revealing emotions from the heart. This is most evident in the riveting finale. While stomping, swinging their arms, and throwing their heads back, the dancers sing along to Wolf Parade’s “I’ll Believe in Anything”. They occasionally burst into powerful runs or leaps. But as the piece closes, they charge toward the back corner while ripping up the white floor tape, their faces and skin blushed with energy and feeling. The emotional impact of Blush leaves the audience as breathless and elated as the dancers.