If I’m honest (a good person on their good days will try to be), I’ll tell you I know nothing about the art of dance. Have me watch a professional dance performance, ingeniously crafted and executed by some of the most adroit artists, all I’ll be able tell you is that they made a pretty picture. And that will be the extent of my opinion. Technique and mechanics, it’s all lost on me. I can’t articulate that which I know nothing about. So when I watched the trailer for Stephen Petronio Company’s performance of Underland, I labored to locate useful adjectives in the empty space of mind to accurately describe such loud, explosive movements. “What a pretty picture.” This is about as far as I’ve come. Perhaps after seeing the full performance of Underland yourself, you’ll manage to conjure up something better than “pretty” for a work choreographed by a man with more than a quarter of a century’s worth of experience.
Underland will be performed at UH’s Wortham Theater Center (also known as Cullen Theater) on Friday, January 11, at 8pm. Native to Australia, Underland arrived in the States in the spring of 2011, first appearing in New York City. Stephen Petronio Company’s production of Underland was met with an applause that the nation has since echoed. Set to the music of Australian pop-sensation, Nick Cave, Petronio’s choreography in Underland intends to capture the malicious side of humanity. The side of us that wants to wreck 18-wheelers, smash glass cases at Tiffany’s, and trip the elderly. (Maybe this is not quite the type of evil Petronio had in mind when he choreographed the piece, but everyone’s demons look different). Seductive, edgy, and dark, Petronio’s Underland has left viewers lusting for an extension of the dance’s hour-long performance.
Stephen Petronio is considered an iconic figure in the world of contemporary dance. His career began to take off in 1979 when he became the first male dancer to join the Trisha Brown Company. In 1984, two years before the New Jersey native retired from the Trisha Brown Company, he began the Stephen Petronio Company. In their 29 years the company has performed in 26 countries. In these three decades, Petronio’s compositions have earned him a reputation for being sharp and intrepid. A style the choreographer has managed to carve out by bringing together some of dancing’s most sensational artists. According to critics, the Stephen Petronio Company’s performance of Underland lives up to the bold, fast-paced style Petronio is associated with.
For more information concerning the Stephen Petronio Company’s performance of Underland on January 11 at UH’s Cullen Theater, click here.