Presented by the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Project at the Duke on 42nd Street, 229 W. 42 St., NYC, Feb. 23-27.
In "Territories," Zvi Gotheiner's new work, there were snatches of perfectly beautiful movement—a duet for Todd Allen and Eric Hoisington in which they are a cross between enemies and lovers, plus some ensemble vignettes—that gave a clear picture of Gotheiner's capacity for working with dancers in unique ways. He explores how dancers reap motivation and inspiration from each other, often with a single touch of another's limb. Here, however, he mostly focused on text and costume changes.
Racks of costumes hung on each side of the stage. The dancers changed behind the racks, hidden from the audience. But streetwear, tees, skirts, and shoes do not a costume make—unless they are carefully selected to enhance the movement or flatter the dancer. These costumes, looking more like the contents of a laundry bag emptied onto a Laundromat floor, did neither.
Text is also a tricky issue, especially when recited by out-of-breath dancers. Depending on the amount and texture of the symbolism within, the viewer can find it challenging to make complete sense of it. "What does this mean?" should not have to be asked more than once.
After Allen announced, "Places, please," the show began. The dancers were individually introduced, coming forward to present themselves: Hoisington, our WASP; two Asian girls, the thinnest dancers ever seen; and Elisa King, mane of long hair in place, who proceeded to dance and speak with complete control. A solo for Jimmy Everett as a young man steeped in sexual guilt was heart-rending in its honesty.
After the introductions, however, things went haywire in scenes with little connective tissue. A sort of finale, consisting of marching to an Israeli folk song, followed, and out of left field came Allen reciting a humorous weather report. It was a "head-spinning" afternoon.