Retrospective classicism

In a solid evening of work, Andrew Jannetti & Dancers celebrate 20 years of heartfelt dance, determination and drive. While at times lacking in originality, Jannetti's honest, gentle spirit shines through with refreshing candor and simplicity.


Andrew Jannetti and Dancers celebrated their 20th anniversary with a retrospective at the Duke on 42nd Street, April 30-May 4, 2003. A choreographer with a penchant for the classical, Jannetti showed works from the past 20 years and premiered two new pieces. The concert opened with a bang, a stage filled with 20 plus dancers in primary color simplicity. "Much Ado" had a Sesame Street-like charm and its fair share of sentimentality. Performing were "past, present and future" company members and the piece was created from the dancers' memories of movement they'd learned from Jannetti over the years. Even before knowing the nostalgic and quirky process of making this piece, it was hard to resist the energy of that many exuberant movers.

Much Ado ... at The Duke on 42nd Street, NYC

Throughout the evening Jannetti's work is filled with a simplicity of form and style rarely seen these days. He makes good use of basic choreographic tools such as cannon — without putting a spin on them: And we are reminded of how effective simplicity can be. His straightforward style is refreshing and yet it seems that an originality of voice has not been fully developed. There are moments in the night when Jannetti begins to break out of the easy classicism that he does so well, and explore a vocabulary all his own. Several such moments occur in the 2 excerpts of "Isolation", which both resonate with emotional honesty. In the first, a solo for Jannetti entitled "Need", he begins curled in a ball doing an awkward rocking motion that, if it goes far enough, promises to take us into uncharted territory. Something real is emerging as Jannetti truly experiences something. It is exciting, but it is cut short. Several times in this solo he gets caught in awkward moments of self-struggle, but he always breaks out of them too easily, too quickly and returns to a vocabulary that is a bit generic. Despite this, an underlying honesty is glimpsed. This emotional truth is also present in the second excerpt, "Desire" a lovely and touching duet between Jannetti and Andreas Wirz. Without any great theatrics, these men move us and draw us into their relationship.

Andrew Jannetti has a talent for choosing the right dancers. Throughout the evening the strong, beautiful company members own the movement. They find weight and subtlety within the most classical movements. In "Outsider", Jannetti begins in a corridor of light, with a chorus of murky figures far in the background. As he repeats typical jazz movements the audience's eye is drawn to the slow motion power of the chorus. There is a sense of journey, for although Jannetti remains the Outsider, he is definitely affected by his interactions with the mysterious chorus. The luscious sweeping score is by Marty Bellar — who made the music for many of Jannetti's pieces, displaying a wide range of color and texture within his sound.

Other works included the quirky "Puddle Jump" nicely performed by Julie Betts, Beth Disharoon, and Jenny Mendez; "Nightshades" a simple, classical piece for 5 women; and "Whisper" a solo for Jannetti in which his dancing and the sound score (with powerful text by Ken Freeman) take turns in the foreground.

Notable is the premier "Water Cello Dreams" set to Bach's Cello Suite in E flat Major and which plays with different states and movements of water. There's the sweeping pull of the undertow, the excitement of a swell. In "Mist", the eye is allowed to scan gently from one couple to another. In "Crest" the movement is bright and sharp. The piece begins with a lovely solo for longtime company member Lauren Naslund and ends with a duet between Naslund and Jannetti — full of the easy fun of longtime friends. A fitting end for this retrospective.

MAY 9, 2003

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