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Adam Miller Dance Project: Nobody Move

Self-presented in association with Joyce SoHo at Joyce SoHo, 155 Mercer St., NYC, June 9–12.

It was dancer-choreographer James Graber who emerged as the star in the evening of dance pieces presented at Joyce SoHo by the Adam Miller Dance Project, a Hartford-based company of ballet-trained performers under the artistic direction of Adam Miller.

The program's most affecting work was a duet excerpted from "Land's Edge" (created by Pilobolus in 1986) in which Graber gave touching, humorous interpretation to the role of a primitive "innocent" discovering life's many joyous physical and emotional sensations.

Graber also provided the evening's most choreographically intriguing work, "Chimera," a mysterious trio. Danced by two women on pointe and a man in a skirt, the choreography organically integrates a modern dancer's affinity for floor work and free use of the torso with straight-ahead classical ballet steps. An air of eerie fear and menace is evoked. Unfortunately, the piece takes a wrong turn near the end, when the tense, driving traditional music is replaced by Bach and suddenly everyone is happy. The dancing becomes light, easy, and conventional. Then a brief pas de deux brings the proceedings too abruptly to an end.

The program's centerpiece, "Nobody Move," a new, film noir–inspired narrative work choreographed by Miller, was enriched by Graber's slinky dancing in the familiar noir role of a private investigator. Though Miller worked to find movements to capture the sly, cool aesthetic of the movie genre, his overreliance on ballet vocabulary often made for awkward phrasing, while his use of the pointe shoe felt incongruous. As was also evident in his choreography of the program's closer, the terribly disjointed sextet "Fabiola 47," Miller rarely finds kinesthetic impulses that derive from or connect naturally with the music. Often his dancers look as though they are moving too slowly or too quickly, just so as to keep time with the beat. Sometimes the rhythms and accents of Miller's choreography are jarringly irrelevant to the jazz and pop accompaniments.

Completing the program were "Chamber," a sensitive duet choreographed by Stuart Loungway that made exquisite use of hand gestures, and "A Minor Form of Despair," a dramatically intense but choreographically repetitious quartet created by Sara Sweet Rabidoux.

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