On Stage - CityDance Ensemble to Perform 'Entangled' at Lansburgh Theatre

CityDance Ensemble's Jerome Johnson and Liz Gahl.
CityDance Ensemble's Jerome Johnson and Liz Gahl. (By Paul Gordon Emerson)
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By Lisa Traiger
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, January 16, 2009

A female dancer perches on the tip of one satiny pointe shoe, one leg nearly touching her ear, an arm reaching toward the floor. In that precarious moment, her male partner supports her, tethering her to the earth.

The CityDance Ensemble piece "Entangled," which premieres tonight at the Lansburgh Theatre, at first appears to be a study in knotty male-female relationships with its push-and-pull, advance-and-retreat moments. But there's something more complex, political even, beneath the surface, says CityDance Artistic Director Paul Gordon Emerson.

"I don't think it will be obvious to people watching," Emerson says, "but for me 'Entangled' is very much a work metaphorically about what we did in Guantanamo.

"The female lead . . . is bound by her experiences. Putting her on pointe confines her to very small points of space in which she can touch the ground. The premise is about the co-dependency between a captor and a captive."

The entire CityDance program, also titled "Entangled," features four other works, among them another premiere, "Scorched," a hot-blooded, deconstructed tango of interchanging couples by New York choreographer Kate Weare; "Mattress Suite," Larry Keigwin's sexy set of six short dances performed with a queen-size mattress; and a CityDance favorite, perhaps the most traditional love duet on the program, Ludovic Jolivet's "Roger & Lucie."

"Ties That Bind," a group piece by CityDance choreographer-in-residence Christopher Morgan, rounds out the evening. "Ties," Morgan says, reflects ideas he had about visual metaphors of restriction after spending time in Europe shortly after Sept. 11, 2001. "The work speaks to the slyness of politics," he says. "You can be the brilliant rebel and find a way to work within the system to yield it to your advantage."

In all the works, Emerson finds the political as readily as the interpersonal.

"To be entangled traditionally is a romantic thing," he says. "But it's also a political thing, a societal thing, a personal choice. . . . Where is it regimented? Where is it free? . . . Where is it about love, and where is it about hate? We're living in a very entangled time right now. The energy of what's going on politically, economically, socially, culturally all ties in."

CityDance Ensemble Lansburgh Theatre, 450 Seventh St. NW. 202-547-1122. www.harmancenter.org. Today-Saturday at 8 p.m. $20-$55.

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