Review: Lindy leaps into the present with Caleb Teicher and Co.
The dancers possess agility in both body and mind, but the dance artists behind “Sw! Ng Out” are particularly brimming with it. Improvisation, for the most part, is what guides them, giving them the chance to live to the limit and, in turn, generate a different program each night.
In the show, a walk through contemporary swing dance led by Caleb Teicher, Lindy Hop – the form that originated in Harlem in the 1920s – does its best to land in the here and now. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Presented by the Joyce Theater, “Sw! Ng Out” is a group effort, featuring a team of collaborators.
As the show’s director, Teicher, who uses them and them non-sexist pronouns, values the intimacy and spontaneity of jazz music and dance; under their direction, the 12 dancers of “Sw! ng Out” make choices based on partner, music and mood. Couples enter and exit traditional gender roles; a dancer who begins by leading may end up following. Within these fast and fluid changes, what really stands out is how the logic of movement coincides with the dancers’ trust in each other.
Sometimes you can see it in their eyes: a fraction of a second’s hesitation turns into an effortless spin that spins perfectly to the beat of the music. These bursts are captivating, even strangely adventurous, and for the audience, the opportunity to grasp something of the secret sensory language of the performers. “Sw! Ng Out” is perpetually joyful. (And sometimes, in a sickening way.)
Together with Teicher, the creative team is made up of dancers Evita Arce, LaTasha Barnes, Nathan Bugh and Macy Sullivan, and composer and conductor Eyal Vilner. But if the evening has a star beyond some of his dancers – Barnes is especially extraordinary for the way past and present can flow through his compact, nimble body – this is the singer of the evening, Imani Rousselle. Her creamy, unaffected voice and delivery have no tricks; words lead her.
The dance begins with the feet – and the curtain has been raised just enough for viewers to see them. As he lifts himself up, six couples dance with furious enthusiasm in front of the group, until they end up kneeling in front of the musicians, screaming and clapping. Throughout the stage, duets parade as the dancers glide from partner to partner, giving the impression that their bodies are filled with air. Concrete example: Teicher, flexible and slender, flies over a dancer during a horse jump. But there are also quieter moments of brisk, gentle footwork. Sometimes couples drag each other in dreamy contentment as a spotlight makes out one for a moment – playful, flirty, mischievous.
While the spirit of “Sw! Ng Out” is intentionally carrying, the show can also drift into nostalgia as the dancers try to find their place in this elusive and ideal place – the place where a potentially old-fashioned form is instilled. of modernity. Relentless smiles, too, can make this show too cute a hair for its own good. A guest appearance by actor and clown Bill Irwin brought out the vaudevillian side of the show with scattered puns that involved layering syllables and choreography of hats. Was it really necessary? His presence broke the flow.
It was the galvanizing choreographed group sections that balanced the improvisations, which made the stage swing. It was the peaks of “Sw! Ng Out” that also made you want to dance. Teicher and his company made room for this: after the first half, titled “The Show”, and an intermission, the group returned and audience members were invited to a social dance experience on stage called “The Show”. Jam “. Teicher, in a brief introduction, gave four pieces of advice: “Don’t monopolize the soil. “
Some did it anyway. But others took Teicher’s suggestion to spread, and it was the dancing that popped up in other parts of the theater – on a balcony, under a dark staircase – that cemented the message of “Sw! Ng Out ”. The pandemic is not over, but as Rousselle sang “Let the Good Times Roll”, it was about dancing to happiness: if you need a break, take one. Rock it.
Until October 17 at the Joyce Theater, Manhattan; joyce.org.