Along Those Lines

Reviewed by Lisa Jo Sagolla

Joyce SoHO, 155 Mercer St., NTC, Oct. 13-15, 2003

Dancer-choreographer Barbara Mahler is a paradigm of perfect biomechanics. In her performance of three of her solos works, at Joyce SoHo, she shows us how the human body is naturally meant to move.
In her first offering, “Walking the Path of the Moon, ” Mahler glides and rolls across the floor with amazing liquidity, propelled by the stunning arcs carved by her legs as they lift and circle, with luscious ease, within her hip sockets. The brief phrases of curving movements are arrested by calm, geometric shapes, in which Mahler’s body seems to breathe, collect its thoughts, and groove into a lulling natural rhythm. There’s never a stress, strain, or unnecessary tension. Every iota of energy Mahler manufactures is perfectly directed an apportioned in just the right dosage to accomplish the required action. It’s the compete lack of kinesthetic verbiage that makes Mahler’s dancing utterly perspicuous.

In “With Window’s Opened Wide”, she shifts her choreographic focus to smaller, more intimate investigations of her physicality. She undulates her thoracic spine with intriguing dexterity, spins tiny pirouettes, and balances on one leg with amazing stability; one cannot detect even the slightest wobble in her ankle–the joint is absolutely quiet, her placement impeccable.

Though everything is so beautifully correct in Mahler’s motions, her choreography never feels calculated or predictable. We have no idea where she will go next, but we watch with both eagerness and comfort – extremely curious to see what new kinetic terrain her body will explore, yet confident she’ll negotiate the journey with ease.

Mahler closed her program with “The Bow”, her newest solo, and proved that she is truly incapable of boring an audience. Though all her dances are quite similar stylistically and choreographically–phrases from one piece could almost be interchanged with those from another-simply watching her body in motion ensure diving aesthetic adventure.

Backstage, 2002