Reviewed by Cindy Pierre
Etch Dance Co.'s Testify is a display of athleticism and dance tricks that is high on energy, but low on tangible emotion. Artistic Director and Choreographer Elisha Clark Halpin's 30-minute, contemporary dance presentation is supposed to embrace what lurks in women's hearts, but the execution is frenetic instead of heartfelt, and overwrought when it could have been simpler. Not that emotions are simple. But the way they are packaged here-in “jagged and angular” movements that are piled on top of one another too quickly to ponder-is offputting instead of inviting. As a result, the troupe of six often look like gymnasts approaching difficult moves when they dance. The soundtrack, consisting mostly of Jazz tunes by Nina Simone and Etta James, tries to tell us that the dancers have the blues, but only Allison Alemi in “Since we met” and Halpin in “All I could do” express themselves in a manner that befits the love songs. They are the only dancers that are convincing, even if Halpin's dress isn't: the fabric doesn't have enough give for the electrifying steps that she has designed. “Stepping into Darkness'” story about warfare in Darfur is poignant, but Megan Moore, Lauren Steinke and Caitlin Rogowski have way too much to do in the time allotted. Testify may make many statements, but too many of those are witnesses against the importance of emotion instead of for it.
Testify (Running time: 30 minutes)
The Robert Moss Theatre (440 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor near Astor Place and East 4th Street)
Tickets: $15. www.fringenyc.org
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