Completing the program was Untitled a pensive study of romance in which the independent actions of three solitary women proved no less romantic than the intertwinings of a couple. —Lisa Jo Sagolla, Backstage Magazine, March 2004
July 16 through July 18, 8 p.m., Ailey Citigroup Theater, 405 West 55th Street, Clinton, (212) 868-4444, $25; $17.50 for 65+; $12 for students.
Untitled (Premiere) This is the third work Ms. Johnson has set to the evocative music of contemporary Polish composer Henryk Gorecki. The work features nine dancers and opens with a group of women who dance in constricted patterns moving amongst themselves. The dance progresses to include passages of intense and almost anxious energy, juxtaposed with sorrowful, contemplative duets. The sense of constriction and withheld emotion with which the work opens eventually dissipates, and the dancers embrace a powerful and passionate life force. The moving closing section of Gorecki's Already it is Dusk is echoed in a spiritual passage for two couples and three women. The work evolved as Ms Johnson re-read much of Virginia Woolf’s fiction and was nearly complete when she viewed an inspirational performance of Antony Tudor’s Pillar of Fire, which allowed Ms Johnson to focus the voice of the piece as it progresses from the opening to the final passages.
In Conversation (…like breathing…like flying.) (2004-05) This work, set to Phillip Glass' Violin Concerto, features double Pas-de-Deux which evolve independently and yet are rhythmically and visually linked as accents, gestures and movements shift from one couple to the other, as they echo a common and ancient male/female dynamic in their raw and tender nature. The Concerto features an unusually lyrical violin part, set over the propulsive rhythmic units that are more typical of Glass' compositions. The dance has a sense of purity and simplicity throughout, in contrast with both the following and preceeding works choreographed by Johnson, which were major works for large casts with many sections.
Lament (2008) The second work that evolved from Ms. Johnson's deep involvement with the music of Henryk Gorecki. Sections of discordant music are reflected in intense passages of group floor work and in several pas de deux for the central character, danced this season by the hauntingly expressive Jeremy Smith, with both men and women. The work concludes with a sorrowful, and redemptive, Amen section.
Dream Sequence (2008) Recalling the elaborate dance sequences on TV variety shows from her childhood, such as the Jackie Gleason Show's June Taylor Dancers, and the Goldiggers on The Dean Martin Show, Johnson has created a sweeping, lush romantic piece to eight songs sung by Dean Martin to arrangements by Nelson Riddle. Responding to Martin's inimitable casual style, but with a nod to all that it overlooks, the piece depicts both the sweetness of romantic desire and its inevitable tensions and disappointments, in a series of pas de deux and ensemble passages.