10 Hairy Legs, an all male-dance company, is fueled by kinetic power. (Photo by Nina Wurtzel@Hudson Valley Dance Festival)
One might think that a contemporary dance company that revolves around one gender might be lacking.
But with 10 Hairy Legs, it’s rather the opposite. The all-male company, seen on Saturday night at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park for Dance, has a leg up on much of the competition. By focusing solely on the strength and power of big-moving men, the company is fueled by the kinetic power that male dancers exude. Led by Founder and Artistic Director Randy James, the repertory company is also willing to experiment, engaging some of today’s top choreographers.
Needless to say, those that have seen 10 Hairy Legs, love 10 Hairy Legs. Certainly, every time I’ve seen them, I’ve been well-pleased.
This time around, I was also happy to see the range of the troupe of five (it actually has more dancers) has expanded. The company showed off its usual strength, but also updated the persona to reflect today’s sexual mores. While not overtly romantic, some of the pieces were flirty, allowing the company to go in a direction that it may not have explored when it was established in 2012.
This was notable in Larry Keigwin’s new work for the company, “Cruise Control.” Set to jazz standards sung by Diana Ross, the piece was a nod to the first sexual sparks that can fly between passersby. With a nightclub feel, the piece was upbeat and carefree with the five swinging by each other in fleeting and chummy encounters.
As with every piece that 10 Hairy Legs presents, the dancers were the thing. These men: Alex Biegelson, Robert Mark Burke, Derek Crescenti, Jared McAboy and Will Tomaskovic were marvels. They moved with a suppleness that served the choreography well. They were also able to do it all and do it articulately.
The evening opened with a meditative work, “So It Goes.” With choreography by Yin Yue, the dance immediately captured the imagination. Burke, McAboy and Tomaskovic tumbled through the nonstop work that set minds on a journey to another plane – both beautiful for its seamlessness, but slightly disturbing as the men shaped their hands into claws and fists.
Darkness fell on “Heist,” a work by Adam Barruch that was also intriguing. To original music by Roarke Menzies, the piece was a replaying of crimes, with stabbings, shootings, jailings and then exorcisms. The actors appeared to be rewinding and seeking redemption for murderous acts. The shadowy work was haunting and one that begs to be seen again and again.
The evening also featured Stephen Petronio’s “Bud,” the only piece on the bill that I didn’t fully enjoy. Mainly I was distracted by the costumes by Tara Subkoff as realized by Abraham Cruz. To a song by Rufus Wainwright “Oh What a World,” Biegelson and Crescenti let on that the outside world infringed on their private one. While I liked what Petronio’s was aiming for, the black straps on the costumes reminded me of sadomasochistic outfits. My mind couldn’t overcome it.
Despite that disappointment, 10 Hairy Legs remains a top 10 on the modern dance charts.