For about five years now, the choreographer Jess Curtis has divided his time creatively between San Francisco and the more arts-funding-progressive Berlin. The arrangement is allowing him to do beautiful new things with his work, I discovered this weekend at CounterPULSE, where the latest show from Jess Curtis’s Gravity has one more performance tomorrow (Sunday). Alas, I wasn’t able to cover for the Chronicle and am too pressed for time to write my own review for this site, but fortunately my colleague Allan Ulrich caught the show for Voice of Dance and waxed eloquent about the new duet for Curtis and Maria Francesca Scaroni. From Allan’s review:

“For 40 minutes, the totally undraped pair provide a gripping epic of shape-shifting, abetted only by a spare, recorded, structured improvisational score by double-bassist Klaus Janek and video artist Regina Teichs. The pair begins by posing on opposite sides of the stage. When Curtis doffs his robe like a lizard shedding his skin, you sense you?re in for something special.

He and Scaroni flow from one sculptural entanglement to another. At one moment, with limbs clasped, they?re rolling across the space like a wagon wheel. At another, she?s hoisting him on to her back. They split apart and slowly recombine. Her legs encircle his neck, and then, they?re hopping around like frogs chasing a fly. The piece, in three sections, does not lack for variety. In the middle part, the tempo slightly quickens, while the twosome seems to interact with the kaleidoscopically processed images of themselves on video.

Clothing would be a distraction. The nudity is not particularly shocking; the work may be deemed erotic by some observers, but the dancers certainly do little to encourage that response. They?re inclined, instead, to image making: surely, the curved arms and torso alignments that seemed to replicate those statues of the god Shiva are not coincidental. At one moment, with Curtis standing behind Scaroni, she seems to possess both his genitals and her own. ”

Click here for Allan’s full review (with video clip embedded!). And catch Curtis’s final SF show for 2008 tomorrow if you’re lucky.

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