The Village Voice
April 10, 1990
On The Rebound
by Sally Sommer
At Dance Theater Workshop
March 23 and 24
Hilary Easton’s new piece Side Swipe shows she is blessed with considerable talent. An outstanding performer herself—known for her work with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane and Company, XXY Dance/Music and Kinematic—she knew what to look for in her own dancers, and gathered together a group that brings juice, passion and wit to her virtuosic choreography. Lilla Arnaboldi, David Dinolfo, Valerie Gutwirth Nathaniel Lee, and Catherine Zimmerman dance Side Swipe, and Amy Pivar performs with Easton in her 1989 duet, Little Rascal.
In Little Rascal Easton sets up a collision of opposites that gives a playful tension to the dancing. Andy Teirstein’s musical score is smooth and witty, and conjures up images of easygoing, laid-back country dancing. Instead, we see small and fiery Pivar and Easton, their neat, tight bodies perfectly matched, exploding into highly polished tandem motion. They fly across the stage, side by side like feisty terriers, snapping out the movement as if they’re popping rubber bands. Little Rascal makes no pretense of being deep, but it is a tasty piece that skips sweetly by.
In contrast, Side Swipe is a full-bodied work for two men and three women, and where Little Rascal is frisky and tight, Side Swipe feels lush and complex. The movements are stretched, athletic, idiosyncratic. Easton weaves and untangles her constellations of dancers with silky ease.
On the physical level, Side Swipe is about bodies as rebounding objects, how the action of one causes a reaction in another, like a billiard ball making a break. A body falls, scattering the group, toppling a man. Emotionally the dance is about how we subvert each other, how we push one another away, how we scatter in new directions less by volition than by being sideswiped, blown by outside forces.
At the heart of the dance are elegant duets, particularly one performed by Nathaniel Lee and Cathy Zimmerman. Lee is built less like a dancer than an insurance salesman. Appealing, imperfect, and masculine, he’s the kind of guy you could lean on, a man you want to touch. He just ambles into position, which makes him a perfect foil for Zimmerman, whose long legs slice through the air with cool precision, whose lean body cuts a decisive line.
The music by David Van Teighem is enormously vital, giving the dance a drama beyond the movement. Van Teighem is creating some of the best dance music around, although that may not be the specific intention of any given composition. It has to do with the way he lays down a steady percussive bass line as a foundation, the way its repetitive insistence makes dancing irresistible, grounding the dance even as it pulls it forward.
Easton is a newcomer who has been making work only since 1987, and although she has barely begun, she is already flowering.
The New York Times
August 7, 1990
Surprises at Summerstage
by Jennifer Dunning
The first dance program of the 1990 Central Park Summerstage festival got off to a varied start on Friday night at the pretty new outdoor performance space just east of the 72nd Street Band Shell.
Hilary Easton's "Side Swipe" lived up to its name with sudden, side-swiping non sequiturs that made it impossible to guess what would happen next. The piece had all the sly wit of its score by David Van Teighem, and it was danced by five terrific movers who also knew how to make the most of their individual presences.
At first glance, it all has the look of juicy semaphors, sort-edged yet gutsy dance that dives, delves and sprawls through space. Ms. Easton seems to beleive that no path, line, emotion or active body is as interesting as the one that continuously loops back on itself in lazy, easy progressions about the stage. A satisfying feast of movement, "Side Swipe" was performed by Lilla Arnaboldi, David Dinolfo, Valerie Gutwirth, Nathaniel Lee and Cathy Zimmerman.