On Wednesday evening at PS 122, the 7th annual soloNOVA Arts Festival opened with Binding, a solo performance conceived and performed by Jesse Zaritt and directed by Basmat Hazan. Zaritt is an arresting dancer who most recently performed in Faye Driscoll’s There is so much mad in me at Dance Theater Workshop, and spent five years as a member of Shen Wei Dance Arts. In his own work, shown in the intimate downstairs theater at PS 122, Zaritt took the audience on a quest for love and connection. It was a lonely journey, and often a mysterious one filled with quiet pauses and violent repression.
Zaritt’s gaze continuously shifted between an internal focus and an outward acknowledgment of the audience as he moved fluidly across the space, often rising and falling to the floor with ease. The set design (by Daniel Zimmerman) of a blinking light, a web of white mesh screens featuring murky projections, and a ramp with a lawn-chair lattice suggested a cross between a bedroom and an otherworldly escape. Interactions with the surroundings were a key part of Zaritt’s performance as he crawled, leaped, and clung to the ramp throughout the work. But a force greater than himself – perhaps his own demons – took control of Zaritt in the form of a black fabric cut-out of a body. After dancing tentatively with it, he curled the fabric into a ball and pounded it into the floor. Later, he stretched his white shirt tightly over his head to create an ominous mask. He flailed about, either attempting to break free or giving in to the repression.
Binding never dug below the surface of the demon’s oppressive qualities, and the result was an ongoing exploration that never led to a realization – at least not for the audience. Zaritt is a gorgeous dancer with a striking presence. His movement was rich, but the content was rather thin.
Binding will be performed again on May 7th, 12th, and 15th at 9:15 PM, and on May 8th at 4:15 PM at PS 122 – 150 First Avenue at 9th Street. Ticket information for this and all of the soloNOVA Arts Festival performances is available online or by calling 212.352.3101.