Presented by the Brooklyn Academy of Music at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave. (between Ashland Pl. and St. Felix St.), Brooklyn, NYC, Oct. 16, 18-20.
Take a breath—along with the dancers of Rosas, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's Belgium-based company. It may be the only one you or the dancers will catch during the hour-long marathon of movement called "Drumming," choreographed by De Keersmaeker to a splendid percussion score by Steve Reich.
After about 10 minutes of the dancers running thither and yon about the BAM Opera House stage, the idea sinks in. This is no gadabout, avant-garde piece that passes for "modern dance." To the contrary, it is a rigidly thought out, highly structured piece of choreography that knows exactly where it is going, how to get there (mostly running), and whom to hook up with—usually another dancer standing in readiness, waiting. "Drumming" is a maze of movement phrases with a core that keeps it fixed.
Lots of scooping, slicing arms, perky runs and skips, and light jumps and leaps are the meat of the choreography, but how they become intertwined, as the dancers travel to their appointed spots, is a grand master plan. Here I am: lift me, twirl me, push me, take my hand, lead me to wherever. One could almost visualize De Keersmaeker's map with pushpins outlining criss-crossed routes for her dancers—a labyrinth of baffling design.
Reich's heavily repetitive but compelling, articulate score, performed with sustaining clarity by the 12-member ensemble known as Ictus, moves as a companion to the choreography—a mutual and respectful union of two artists with an exact result in mind.
The production was handsome. The costumes provided by famed designer Dries Van Noten were white undershorts, cut-off comfortable pants, and over-blouses with an occasional accent of black, orange, or shimmering silver. In the back was a scrim through which we could see a bank of percussion instruments and the arrival and departure of the Ictus members.
"Drumming" was brilliantly conceived and executed, and Rosas' 13 dancers, with a jolly spirit and wistful smiles, complied (gulping breaths and all) with a singular commitment.