Stephen Petronio Company
has said, "A verb follows straight after a verb." But that's not to say his unrelenting momentum isn't sensitively and stylishly deployed. Since founding his New York-based company in 1984, Petronio has collaborated with such artists as Laurie Anderson, Anish Kapoor, Lou Reed, and Cindy Sherman.
The identical programs presented Friday and Saturday, February 16 and 17, at the Power Center by the University Musical Society, boast two 2006 projects developed with lauded singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright (also slotted as one of January's Ann Arbor Folk Festival headliners). Hugely accomplished and satisfying, Bud Suite incorporates four Wainwright songs from his Want One and Want Two disks. Oh What a World sets the stage with a magnetic male pas de deux accompanied by Wainwright's louche, world-weary voice, Bolero quotes, and a plodding horn section. Like competitive ice dancers, the two are in almost constant touch, and when apart, they tend to spin and leap in unison. A female quartet follows one that is, as legendary Village Voice critic Deborah Jowitt has noted, vaguely reminiscent of the iconic linked foursome from Swan Lake. Shrugging and swirling, accessorized with flirty half tutus, the women exhibit a rag-doll adolescent quality. The piece concludes with a group dance to Wainwright's meditative "Agnus Dei." Like scattershot bright stars etched against a dark cosmos, dancers buzz with energy, flail, and then join together in an atmosphere less formally religious than collectively spiritual.