Thursday, December 01, 2011

"Hover Space"

Photo by Lois Greenfield
Printz Dance Project
Z Space, San Francisco
November 30th, 2011

Last night, Printz Dance Project's newest endeavor, "Hover Space", burst onto the modern dance scene at Theater Artaud's Z Space.  Choreographed and conceived by Artistic Director Stacey Printz, this piece takes the idea of traditional performance space and raises it to a new height with the incorporation of a suspended dance stage.  With a talented cast, unique concept and inventive movement, "Hover Space" is a slam dunk.

Narratively there were a two interdependent themes running through the work.  First was the notion of relationships.  The opening vignettes introduced us to three different couples, whose interaction and connection would be examined over the course of the seventy-minute dance.  Second was expansion.  With the addition of a second stage, these relationships could be experienced and understood as the sum of multiple different levels.  Pas de deuxs unfolded both horizontally and vertically, bringing a richer dimension to the story of each couple and revealing several truths.  As the pairs struggled to associate with each other when on the ground and on the suspended stage, Printz exposed that relationships can be equally unsure whether they are built on stable roots or rocky foundations.  As the upper stage tilted, yet another relationship angle was explored.  As the duos climbed up to the top and slid down and away from each other, the balance of coupledom was clear - love can be precarious and easily lost or it can be strong and secure if you make the effort to catch each other.

Printz's movement vocabulary in itself is a very interesting fusion of styles: modern, hip hop and contemporary jazz.  Hip hop and jazz are not easy genres to incorporate into rigorous artistic work; they often come across looking too commercial or similar to dance competition choreography.  Printz is able to combine the three by focusing on the technical challenges of modern dance, the lyrical expression of jazz and the staccato attack of hip hop.  The jumping and rolling sequence towards the end of "Hover Space" was a physical explosion.  Its full-out abandon brought to mind the early work of LaLaLa Human Steps.

From a conceptual perspective, the 'hovering' second stage was brilliant and super cool.  In the first group scene, this suspended stage rose and the dancers dangled from the bottom in a serpentine cluster - the effect was really quite something.  Design additions like this one run the risk of being gimmicky, but because Printz paid careful attention to enmeshing all aspects of the work, everything on the stage fit together perfectly. 

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