Review of Restless Eye

David Neumann and his Advanced Beginner Group aspire to the irrational in Restless Eye, at New York Live Arts March 25th. The choreographer’s directions are spoken out loud, but the dancers oppose them. Yet the group’s memorable movement motifs, carefully constructed contrapposto poses, and symmetrical round patterns abide nature’s rational order, on first viewing.

Victoria Roberts-Wierzbowski’s relaxed hands and flexed, natural looking feet express the Group’s casual and also rigorous signature. Their heads move along with their vertical torsos and the eyes look straight toward the dancer’s destination. Repetition gives Restless Eye rhythm (order and narrative flow).

Andrew Dinwiddle lies on his back supporting Kennis Hawkins, who floats over him in an aerodynamic arabesque. Standing apart but grouped, the cast members momentarily raise and quiver a foot above the floor or rise up from it in sidewinded push-ups. In duets, Jeremy Olson and Roberts-Wierzbowski’s, or Dinwiddle and Hawkins, double in antigravity-like walks, setting time and place: 1962, Cape Canaveral. Wearing belted white jumpsuits or cricket attire, they take off in flights of fancy from an imaginary upstage backyard garden.

 

Dinwiddle steps to a mike stand at the foot of the stage and delivers “writing samples” in a distorted radio voice. They are brief like today’s blog posts, status reports, or tweets. His words (Sibyl Kempson’s text) feel inevitable and rational. And yes, he breaks into song.

A stage-left, spackled, wallboard cabin structure houses Tei Blow’s rich fast-moving video collage. It imagines a forest cabin, aubade, then brainy mathematical meanderings. We see it through window and door openings. At one point, we might call it Restless Eye‘s crescendo, Dinwiddle sits inside strumming a guitar and singing a high-pitched meandering tune.

The dancers wear headsets and, apparently, their brainwaves control Christine Shallenberg’s lighting. The result feels anything but robotic. Invoking the plight of the artist and the archetypal unheard, unseen tree falling in the forest, Advanced Beginner Neal Medlyn says, “Trees are helpless observers.” Yet, with gentle civility, the floaty Restless Eye offers a sense of abandonment and empowerment. “Affirmative,” I’d respond to their spacey, static-laced transmissions.