Hilary Easton + Company
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Press - The New Yorker, January 20, 2003

Frost Palace

By Liesl Schillinger

In Hilary Easton’s beautiful, haunting dance, based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Snow Queen,” Kay and Gerda (Aaron Draper and Monica Bill Barnes) dance and play as if in mind-lock, showing the magnetic connection that leaps between a couple too young to know that they are in love, or that love can be lost. When the evil, pantherine Snow Queen (played by the delightfully angular Blossom Leilani, who moves in a sliding harmony of sharp planes), spots Kay, she hisses zestfully and courses her prey surefootedly, knowing that Kay’s speed will trip him up. Afraid, beguiled, he lets himself be caught, and she freezes his heart. With Easton’s choreography, Dorothy Barnhouse’s text, and David Van Tieghem’s original score, the story is no longer just for children; it’s a parable about the shock an abandoned person feels when a loved one vanishes. But the prowess of the dancers, and the fun they take in their roles, keep things from getting grim—even when the sinewy, sorceresslike blond narrator, Renata Godfrey, chants, “Ice can break everything—skin, feathers, fur—everything except bones…” you know to hope for a thaw. Each dancer has a signature style and mood, and tracking the transitions is just one of the pleasures of this intricate dance piece. With costumes by Cynthia Rowley. 

© Hilary Easton 2010