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ELISA MONTE CELEBRATES, TAKEHIRO UEYAMA FUSES: NY DANCE WEEKEND

This article originally appeared in the Culture section of Bloomberg News on September 22, 2006.

Sept. 22 (Bloomberg) — Four dancers stride across the stage, seeming oblivious to one another. Two collide violently, triggering entanglements and wild cantileverings that identify them as lovers one moment, enemies the next.

This is the opening of Elisa Monte’s new “Hardwood,” set to high-voltage, often haunting music by John King. The piece is featured in the 25th-anniversary program of Elisa Monte Dance, at the Joyce Theater through Sunday.

Monte is remembered for her fierce-spirited dancing as a principal with Martha Graham. She put herself on the map as a choreographer in 1979 with “Treading,” a postmodern duet with a sensual undercurrent to a mesmerizing score by Steve Reich.

Today, her dances are in the repertories of well-known modern dance and classical companies, from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater to the San Francisco Ballet.

Monte’s work is notable for coupling high energy with frank sensuality and for its humanist themes. Often her dances hint at primordial impulses and tribal ritual.

Her performers — physically diverse, united in spirit — constitute a tribe of their own. It’s characterized by grace, daring and an almost palpable camaraderie.

Elisa Monte Dance is at the Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Ave. at 19th Street, tonight through Sunday. Tickets: (1)(212) 242-0800. Information: http://www.elisamontedance.org.

Fusion Choreographer

Call the Japanese-born, former Paul Taylor dancer Takehiro Ueyama a fusion choreographer.

He melds movement, music and themes derived from his roots in both East and West. Tonight through Sunday, his 3-year-old Take Dance Company will be at the Ailey Citigroup Theater showing how he does that without looking artsy.

In his new “One,” the Eastern elements are used as if they were natural occurrences, not highly wrought artifice. The Western ones energize the material, giving it a daring athletic quality and a visceral impact.

Ueyama’s at his most inventive with the ever-shifting pattern of the figures on stage. Any given moment offers a picture that’s exquisitely balanced yet often surprising.

He’s adept, too, at devising forceful, fluid movement. Happily, it’s not too derivative of Taylor.

True, he can’t resist borrowing the doom-charged herded- animals image from the master’s “Esplanade.” He also co-opts the buoyant loping run with turning head and slashing arms from “Aureole” — which Taylor cheerfully confesses he stole from Martha Graham.

The Take Dance Company performs at the Ailey Citigroup Theater, 405 W. 55th St. at Ninth Avenue, tonight through Sunday. Tickets: 1(212)868-4444. Information: http://www.takedanceny.com.

© 2006 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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