Tere O’Connor’s unwavering vision of togetherness apart

Tere O’Connor’s unwavering vision of togetherness apart


Tere O’Connor, Rivulets, Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York, 2022. From left to right: Jessie Young, Jordan Lloyd (foreground), Emma Judkins, Tess Dworman (background), Wendell Gray II (background), Mac Twining (foreground), Leslie Cuyjet, Jordan Morley. Photo: Maria Baranova.

LEAVING THE THEATER after Tere O’Connor’s Rivulets, I distinctly felt that I experienced just found a dance by Tere O’Connor. That may well sound evident, but it is not some thing you can say about each choreographer—that their work feels unmistakably theirs. With the rupture of the pandemic among O’Connor’s last main venture (Extensive Operate, 2017) and this 1, the continuity of his aesthetic struck me as the two reassuring and surreal, a reminder that while so significantly has changed, some people, someway, have managed to preserve carrying out their matter.

When I imagine of a Tere O’Connor dance, I consider of multiplicity, flourishing, layering: pictures submerged or advised as nicely as plainly witnessed. I consider of movement invoking numerous meanings at the moment, irreducible to any singular interpretation, and disparate things to do coexisting like parallel trains of considered. I assume of a soundness of structure and dancers dancing total out, not just bodily exerting by themselves but excavating intricate internal worlds.

Lush and enigmatic, Rivulets has all of that. It also has a musical score by O’Connor, who has generally collaborated with the composer James Baker about his forty-year profession but listed here takes audio style into his personal fingers. New to this project, too, are several customers of the wonderful cast of 8: Wendell Grey II, Jordan Demetrius Lloyd, Jordan Morley, Mac Twining, and Jessie Youthful, who be part of returning dancers Leslie Cuyjet, Tess Dworman, and Emma Judkins.

The perception that no time had handed also brought with it for me a whisper of disappointment: a wish for some greater indication that it had, some spectacular swerve in a new route. If just about anything approaches that in Rivulets, it’s the aliveness of the dancers’ collective presence, their discovery of a fresh new team dynamic. The electricity of that however-unfolding method infuses the dance.

In the studio-theater of Baryshnikov Arts Center—which offered Rivulets with Danspace Undertaking above two months in December—the performers all took the phase jointly and remained there until eventually the conclusion, resting on the periphery at times but hardly ever exiting. Their bearing witness to one particular yet another heightened the perception of a formal nonetheless personal ritual taking condition right before us. Audience users sat together two sides of the area (riverbanks occur to brain), viewing the very same piece from reverse angles and, probably fewer consciously, viewing every other observe.

Interrupting our preshow chatter, the lights went down as the cast entered in the dark, then went up once more on a striking tableau: two chains of bodies cascading along the floor, joined head to foot, every single flowing from one of two dancers (Cuyjet and Dworman) seated on a bench. Heralded by dissonant horns, this opening image brimmed with contradictions. Have been all those on the ground in repose or distress? Luxuriating or defeated? Postures erect, Cuyjet and Dworman appeared just about victorious: Was their ease at the cost of, or in assistance of, those who lay at their ft? Or was this arrangement of bodies simply just an architectural construction, a pretty condition?


Tere O’Connor, Rivulets, Baryshnikov Arts Center, New York, 2022. Mac Twining, Emma Judkins, Wendell Gray II, Jordan Lloyd. Photo: Maria Baranova.

As if stirring from a desire, those people on the flooring sat up and looked close to. Out of this awakening emerged the initial of numerous solos, Twining threading supplely through room in a long-sleeved emerald gown. (Reid Bartelme developed the sober nonetheless whimsical costumes in a palette of greens, browns, and bluish grays, the hues of earth and water.) From group configurations, a lot more solos, duets, and trios bubbled up, momentary focal factors gestures from these more compact units sometimes rippled to these on the outskirts, drawing the ensemble back again jointly.

In holding with the title, aquatic motifs launched on their own: arms snaking overhead like waves (probably the most literal) piano compositions reminiscent of rushing water. So did flickering allusions to ballet classicism and its people-dance roots—or at the very least that’s what I noticed. (O’Connor’s work, open up-finished as it is, prompts you to dilemma this kind of specific associations as quickly as you make them.) Just one second referred to as to brain Matisse’s The Dance one more, Nijinsky’s Ceremony of Spring one more, the processional pomp of a tale-ballet marriage scene. The tunes shifted routinely among the modes and moods—now foreboding, now serene—and the dancing followed match, nevertheless the function preserved a wholeness, in command of its quite a few restless and elusive components.

At periods, all of the dancers would retreat to the perimeter of the stage, going through a single a different from reverse sides. In this way, O’Connor performed subtly with viewpoint at a certain position, what I had perceived to be the dance’s “front” seemed to transform. In the identical fast, I turned intensely conscious of the viewers users across the home: my reflection.

Inside of of these much larger structures, just about every performer’s individuality shone through, occasionally in the quietest details: a smile creeping throughout Judkins’s deal with, a furtive glance from Morley. Lloyd projected an effortless heat and, alongside with Grey in their mirroring duet, a tenderness the luminous Younger exuded determination. Cuyjet and Dworman reemerged as some thing like leaders in the stop, at as soon as vulnerable, assertive and seeking, both equally with each other and alone.

Rivulets closed with the dancers organized in rows, crossing back again and forth in side-to-side measures that turned front-to-back again pivots, a final shift of orientation. Still even in light of the work’s fullness, I found myself startled when it was above, not ready for it to finish. I’m still not guaranteed if I was just wholly entranced, or waiting for something more—a further plunge into the unknown—from a master so certain of his craft. To draw from the classes of the dance: probably the two.

Rivulets ran from December 7 to December 17 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York.