Self-presented at Williamsburg Art Nexus, 205 N. Seventh St., Brooklyn, NYC, Jan. 16-18.
Dancer-choreographer Stephen Brown is a luscious mover, his large, solid body blending lyrical modern-dance phrasing with flashes of darting actions that lend a hip, pop-culture sensibility to his dancing. But unfortunately, in his 70-minute trio, "The Bucket" (which felt like it should have been over a good 20 minutes before it actually ended), Brown and his two women partners did very little dancing, and spent too much time playing "meaningfully" with ping-pong balls and putting their heads inside buckets and then trying to kiss one another through the metal.
Presented at Williamsburg Art Nexus, the episodic work was also marred by Brown's tendency to put neat, clean finishes on the ends of all of the many short sections of the piece. This created an irksome lack of continuity. Rather than letting an element of one section spill over or carry us into the next portion of the dance, every two or three minutes we experienced a sense of completion and had to repeatedly reignite our interest in the performance.
The highlights of "The Bucket" came early in the evening: the snazzy opening dances to perky arrangements of standards such as "Over the Rainbow" and "Begin the Beguine," a wonderfully weird solo by Brown in a girlish white dress juxtaposing the aesthetics of rap and romanticism, and a daring, athletic pas de deux about a couple who can't quite get in sync with one another, but always manage to keep it together by turning, lifting, catching, or supporting each other just in the nick of time.
Though the overuse of props grew tedious, and the minimalist portions of "The Bucket" were unbearably uninteresting, Brown did succeed in providing some thought-provoking commentary on the absurdity of romance and the ridiculousness of sappy sentimentality.