Donna Uchizono/Mikhail Baryshnikov

Donna Uchizono’s night starts with a bang. As in, a thundering slam, like a metal door hitting concrete. The soundtrack to the dance takes it from there: silverware clattering, glass smashing, alarms, creaky hinges, factory thumping and clanging, a deep rumble beneath it all. The dance is those found sounds embodied. The dancers use their hands and necks–twitching, swooping, tilting–as much as, if not more than, their limbs and torsos.
I liked States of Head. But it was Leap to Tall–okay, it was Baryshnikov–that seized me. I’ve never seen someone move with such fluidity and control, so aware of his body and so effortlessly in it. When the other dancers scattered from the stage and he took his first solo, I’ll confess, tears came to my eyes. I hardly saw the other two, even when they came back. They were gorgeous and kinetic, a livewire crackle, but he, dressed in simple black pants and T-shirt, has this core–a center of gravity to which all else is drawn.
We fetishize youth (and doesn’t dance, of all the arts, particularly demand it?)–especially when it comes to the body. Baryshnikov is fifty-nine, and impossible to take your eyes off of. In his movement there is so much wisdom. I feel lucky to have seen him.
I lost count, but there were either four or five ovations at the end. The audience was not only standing, but applauding above their heads and shouting and whistling. “Look at that bittersweet look on his face,” I heard the person standing behind me say. And as the dancers bowed and the curtain fell, then rose, again and again, it seemed he might have been right.
–Chelsey Johnson

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