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UNTITLED TOUCH at The Joyce Theater, March 28-April 2, 2017
The score by Petronio’s frequent collaborator Son Lux begins with the sound of a piano crashing, then subsiding into a quiet flurry. The music throughout is ongoing, driving. The dance rides it or punctuates it. -Deborah Jowitt, Arts Journal
At The Joyce Theater this spring, during its 33rd year, Stephen Petronio Company presented the world premiere of Untitled Touch, a collaboration between choreographer Stephen Petronio and composer Son Lux (aka Ryan Lott). Their fifth piece, Untitled Touch began with the artists’ desire to highlight intimacy and interconnectedness, as a means of challenging our culture’s digital obsession and divide. Petronio and Lott developed the work together over 12 weeks, each building intricately layered compositions from the results of improvisational explorations—between bodies and instrument parts in contact and friction—with surprising and evocative effect. Together, working in tandem, Petronio and Lott defined the arc of the piece, which moves fluidly in and out of recognizable forms and sounds. In a post-performance conversation with critic and scholar Wendy Perron, Petronio called the work his “soft piece, which took 30 years to get to.”
The Joyce season was held March 28-April 2, 2017 and drew critical and audience acclaim for its “fabulous, mind-expanding program” (Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times). Untitled Touch appeared alongside five reconstructed works by postmodern masters: Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, and Anna Halprin. Influenced also by his investigation of these historic works, through the Bloodlines initiative, Petronio’s Untitled Touch revealed Rainer, Paxton, and Halprin as “layered deep down in [Stephen’s] creative soul” (Deborah Jowitt, Arts Journal).
Untitled Touch is a 20-minute work for eight Company dancers. The costumes, imprinted with images of hands, were created by H. Petal with Naomi Luppescu. Lighting was by the Company’s resident designer Ken Tabachnick.
BROADWAY WORLD REVIEWS UNTITLED TOUCH
“The original composition by Son Lux, who has revolutionized the sound of electronic music through instrumental musicianship, is an example of the creative impetus to renew art to the contemporary through multidisciplinary inspiration. “ – Matt Hanson for Broadway World, April 3, 2017
Deborah Jowitt reviews Untitled Touch
“The eight dancers come and go, meet, join together, exchange information, part, and fall into new encounters, new joint projects. Many of these are vibrantly physical; the dancers launch themselves into the air, twist against unseen forces, wheel and slash their limbs—straight from shoulder to fingertips and from hips to toes—like propellers rioting.” – Deborah Jowitt for DanceBeat, April 4, 2017
Untitled Touch performed at The Joyce Theater
Untitled Touch, choreographed by Stephen Petronio with an original score by Son Lux with support from New Music USA, was performed at The Joyce Theater in New York City on March of 2017. This is a preview of the season.
Untitled Touch—a collaboration between choreographer Stephen Petronio and composer Son Lux—will premiere March 28-April 2, 2017 during Stephen Petronio Company’s 23rd season at The Joyce Theater. The original 30-minute dance work by Petronio will feature a commissioned score by Son Lux, aka Ryan Lott. Untitled Touch is the artists’ fifth collaboration. The work will also include the contributions of Petronio’s eight dancers, H. Petal (costumes), and Ken Tabachnick (lighting).
Untitled Touch is about the immediacy and intimacy of physical contact – a timely theme in an era of empty digital connection and polarized politics. In dialogue since this summer, Petronio and Lott together are sourcing material for movement, sound textures, and a unified arc for the whole piece. Their mutual point of departure being “friction,” the two artists are engaged in a continuous back-and-forth yielding a sonic atmosphere that is propelling Petronio’s creative intention. The connections of choreography and score are being refined now in daily rehearsals.
In Untitled Touch, Petronio moves beyond the abstract architectures that typically drive his work. The choreography focuses on connectedness and the impact of heightened sensitivity. Guided by improvisational exercises—some learned by Petronio from the master postmodern innovators—Untitled Touch centers on tactile exploration: how we navigate through a maelstrom of action together, how our bodies enliven a space, and how a space can inhabit us. Untitled Touch mines a world of contact to reveal the social codes of touch—touching physical architecture and space, touching ourselves and touching each other.
This fall and winter, the Company refined a movement language built around these themes – mostly presented through partnering. In Untitled Touch, bodies press, corral, and prod in hand-to-hand, hand-to-body, and body-to-body actions, in couples and groups. Teams intertwine then challenge the pathways of opposing dancers as they strive to complete their spatial tasks. Aggression, sensitivity, and delicacy all live this world.
Lott’s score features the same contrasts. He uses the haunting but warm texture of his own voice and samples chosen through an exploration of humanness, intimacy, and the sensual present. His improvisations have included surface-to-surface interactions of disparate objects to yield unexpected results. Then, extending these resulting unexpected sounds electronically, he has produced an otherworldly, altered sonic quality. SPC is now working with a second draft of Lott’s score, to be received in final form before the March 2017 premiere.
Petronio and Lott’s creative process has been tested through past collaborations ranging from short, 15-minute pieces to major evening-length collaborations, including commissions for Ballet de Lorraine, National Dance Company Wales, and Stephen Petronio Company. Supported by New Music USA, Lott’s live band with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City provided the soundscore for Like Lazarus Did in 2013.
Following the Joyce premiere, Untitled Touch will be available for touring, with bookings at White Bird in Oregon and Laguna Dance Festival in California already in discussion. Educational components of this work are also in development with a focus on non-dancer populations and audiences in nontraditional dance environments.
Start and End Dates
08/01/2016 — 04/02/2017
New York, New York