Dmitri Peskov Dance Theatre: Live review
“Period dance” is trending. New York City Ballet’s current run of premieres, in collaboration with architect Santiago Calatrava, is generating hoopla from the fact that two—Alexei Ratmansky’s Namouna, Grand Divertissement and Estancia by Christopher Wheeldon—drew much inspiration from dances made before the company and its signature style had coalesced. Also enjoying a torrent of attention is Natalia Osipova, a 24-year-old dancer whose approach to roles like Kitri in Don Quixote harkens back to Maya Plisetskaya’s some fifty years ago. Last weekend, the Moving Architects’s phenomenal Sacred Spaces offered multiple layers of experience, one of which was like a silent film set in the Roman Republic and shot in the early ’70s. The subject’s also come up this week with regard to the Martha Graham Company and Merce Cunningham’s posthumous career. With the debut of Dmitri Peskov Dance Theatre at Links Hall, we’re again somewhere other than now.
In the evening “Of Fleeting Things,” its closing note is particularly retro. The duet Peskov made for himself and Aimee Tye, Eros, finds them both in flesh-colored underwear, either dancing to each other or building slowly-shifting sculptural forms. The mood is that of Jacqulyn Buglisi’s 1991 duet, Threshold: Two lovers engorged with angst drift utterly alone through space. (Eros isn’t set to Arvo Pärt, but Pēteris Vasks’s music is essentially the same thing.) While Threshold crawls low to the ground, though, Eros is a tantric kaleidoscope of arms and legs: Peskov and Tye often look like a giant bird unfolding its wings. Eros could have been choreographed four decades ago.
The rubber-faced Paul Christiano—think Jim Carrey as a gymnastic Buster Keaton—is engaging in his co-choreographed scenes, solo The Entertainer (Make ’em Laugh and bits with hats) and duet Till Death Do Us Part (slo-mo slapstick wifeicide). Christiano appears one more time in The Hour of the Wolf, a tense battle with the contents of three cabinets of Dr. Calegari—Links Hall’s stage-right closet doors—full of the show’s greatest moments.
Peskov’s two solos and other duet, Lullaby, are most contemporary in feeling, but one still gets the sense of a throwback. When performing, he holds a gaze like staring into a sunset; even though an enormous range of facial expression is available at Links, Peskov wears one that’s better suited for the Lyric. His choreography uses floor-work, but without the release necessary to it. One hears a lot of bones hitting wood. When Drowning Man, dedicated to his father, bursts into immediacy through the passion of his performance, the shift is telling.
It’s easy to think it’s all aesthetic time travel, like Next restaurant or working vintage into your wardrobe. As the audience—sold out Friday—trickles in, all the characters are onstage in ways that foreshadow or later inform their dances. This is a nice touch. The way the seven shorts are sequenced, and the balance of comedy and drama, are perfect. Whether what “Of Fleeting Things” borrows from the past says anything about the present, though, is the question.