The New York Times-Arts & Leisure Section
September 6, 1992
Glancing Backward With an Eye On the Future
Dance View/Jennifer Dunning
There were just enough surprises this past season to whet the appetite for more.
….Dance could stand a good deal more authority—and brevity—on stage. Audiences shouldn’t have to supply missing parts or themes, or spend time wondering what one thing has to do with another, no matter how young, new—or august—the choreographer. One model of refreshing certainty was Hilary Easton, whose work was seen last winter at the Downtown Art Company theater. For all the urgent enrgy in her dances, it was clear there was a formidably focused intelligence behind them, and both elements were exhilarating. The choreographer took her audience on a bumpy ride, but the bumps were surprises, quick and understated.
The New York Times
February 20, 1992
High Energy With Many Surprises
By Jennifer Dunning
It is not so unusual these days for a young modern-dance choreographer to revel in the kind of high-energy pure physicality that marked the pieces presented by Hilary Easton and Company on Saturday night the Downtown Art Company. What makes Ms. Easton’s work so distinctive and so exhilarating is its wit. Each of the program’s four new and recent dances was crammed with surprising incident. Sometimes the surprise came with a sudden, quick gesture that connoted a specific emotional relationship in a dance that was at least superficially abstract. Other times, the surprise lay in unexpected phrases and transitions or in the way Ms. Easton used an expected move at an unexpected time.
Ms. Easton’s gift for subliminal logic was most apparent in her new “Come Hither”, a solo for Nancy Sakamoto. Dressed in a white satin tank suit with a white tulle skirt, Ms. Sakamoto looked at first like a barefoot ballerina as she moved before a white square of light ingeniously centered on the stage’s black back wall to suggest a fashion photographer’s set-up.
She moved forward and back in odd, secretive-looking little journeys, cued sometimes by casual commands on a taped sound score created by Lisa Love. The voices of a man and a woman seemed to be instructing a model how to move. But the scenario became gradually dissonant as the voices argued calmly about the model’s behavior and that behavior became less and less pliant. Ms. Sakamoto has an intriguing way of suggesting much with slight gestures like the turn of a head or rounding of an arm. The solo is funny but also chilling and more than a little poignant. Ms. Easton makes familiar points about female compliancy with remarkable restraint and freshness.
“Up(2)”, a new duet, is a remarkable tour de force in terms of craft and performance. It follows a quartet, called “Up”, whose theme is the propping up of wilting bodies, which is done at full speed in continuous motion. The action takes place on the floor in “Up(2)”, but the bodies are full of propulsive energy. The dances, rich choreographic compendiums, are set to music by David Van Tieghem that sounds as if it had been composed by Edgar Allen Poe with the help of manic, obsessive metronome.
The performers, absorbing in their unflagging stamina and deftness, were Eric Diamond and Barrie Raffle in “Up(2)” and Mr. Diamond, Ms. Raffel, Miles Everett and Ms. Sakamoto in “Up”. The program was completed by “Social Function”, a duet for two rockers that was set to a witty score by John King and that offered all too brief a glimpse of Ms. Easton’s dancing, here with Mr. Diamond.
Cynthia Rowley created the evening’s handsome costumes. The inventive lighting was by Pat Dignan.