‘Not entirely herself.’ Vicky Shick

20 March 2011, The Kitchen, New York

Vicky Shick’s newest work, Not entirely herself, is a beautifully lyrical and sensuous dance piece for a trio of young women, Shick herself, and another veteran performer, Neil Greenberg.

Performed in the black box space of the Kitchen in downtown Manhattan, Not entirely herself began with three dancers, Marilyn Maywald, Jimena Paz and Maggie Thom, working on a small, square platform raised slightly off the floor. As they posed alone and together on this platform, linking and separating their bodies in a variety of ways, they set the scene for what might be considered the theme of Shick’s work: how we connect (or don’t connect) with each other. These groupings continued throughout the piece, sometimes on the platform, sometimes elsewhere in the performing space, and became a little like a photograph album with the changing nature of the groupings reflecting the changing pattern of friendships over time.

In between, passages of dancing showed Shick’s choreographic interest in small, detailed movement set alongside flowing sections of luxuriant dancing. I especially admired Marilyn Maywald who was able to imbue the simplest of movements, such as the twist of a wrist or the placement of a foot on the ground, with dancerly sensibility, and whose body sang with a feeling of abandonment as  she moved through the free-flowing sections.

This trio section, the longer of the two that made up the hour-long work, was followed by a duet for Shick and Greenberg. It seemed like a statement of closure on what had gone before. Here was a couple familiar with each other’s character, able to move together, joke together, be together without concern that the relationship might founder. And what a star performer Neil Greenberg is. His Cunningham-esque ability to isolate movement in specific parts of the body, whether hips, hands, head or any other part of his anatomy, is formidable. He must be one of the most articulate and kinetically intelligent dancers to grace the contemporary dance scene. Not only that he has charisma in bucket loads.

The work was designed by Shick’s long-term collaborator Barbara Kilpatrick. I particularly enjoyed the contrast Kilpatrick set up between the three young women in their rather trendy outfits, which included a Sergeant Pepper style jacket, various see-through items and a kind of island sarong, and the more functionally useful outfits worn by Shick and Greenberg. Costuming highlighted beautifully the differences of personal relationships suggested in each section. Lighting was by Chloe Brown and the work was performed to an original score and sound design by Elise Kermani.

Arriving from the far-flung Antipodes without a ticket to this sold-out show I decided to take my chances with that peculiarly New York custom—the wait list. I was in luck and am grateful to whomever decided not to pick up their reserved tickets!

Michelle Potter, 21 March 2011