The last time Lawrence Goldhuber presented a new
work at the Abrons Arts Center, 18 months ago, it was an allegorical tale
titled Sleeping Giant—complete with video projections and live music. It
found Goldhuber working in a narrative vein, which is where much of his recent
work has ventured. This week he returns to this intimate jewel of a theater,
but other than the venue, just about everything is different this time around.
“For the major recent works that I’ve done, there
has always been an existing narrative in place,” explains Goldhuber recently,
while sitting in his cozy top-floor Manhattan Plaza apartment. “Whether it was Julius
Caesar Superstar, or Hoody [his personal take on Little Red Riding
Hood], I worked from somebody else’s story and tweaked it. This time, I went
into the studio with these dancers and started making movement. A narrative has
emerged, even though I definitely started without one.”
Robustly plus-size for a dancer, the always
inquisitive, effusive Goldhuber is marking his 25th anniversary in dance, which
he dates from the start of his 10-year association with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie
Zane Company. Not shy with his opinions, he admits that generally “I’m not
really a fan of movement for movement’s sake.” But he immediately makes an
exception for Merce Cunningham, whose work he steadfastly admires.
“Pretty movement and spatial arrangements—that
doesn’t really compel me,” he says. “So, here I am, always making these ‘story
ballets’ and I felt, maybe I should try something else.”
Another way he is pushing himself beyond his
comfort zone is by creating the piece with dancers who are new to his work,
rather than some of the longtime associates who have often appeared in it. In
the new trio, Trellis, Goldhuber performs with Roy Fialkow, a two-decade
veteran of Les Ballets Trocadero de Monte Carlo, and Siri Peterson, a tall,
leggy dancer/choreographer whom he first encountered when she was a student in
a choreographic workshop he taught.
They move within, under, around and through a large
trellis (designed by Gregory L. Bain, who also designed the lighting) that is
such a large, dominant presence that Goldhuber knew that once he placed it
center stage, there was no way to ignore it. He describes the trellis as “a
gateway, an entrance, a portal” and noted that it establishes an Eden-like
locale, into which aspects of a ruder, rougher outside world sometimes intrude.
Back when he was first conceiving this piece, he
envisioned it as having eight dancers: four older, four younger. Once it
evolved into a trio—due to outside circumstances as well as economic
realities—“the idea of a love triangle emerged, with one person always watching
the other two. It was a little creepy, and I liked that. Then the pairings that
I thought would happen changed. Now, the ending that has emerged is a new
The music for Trellis
is an intriguing blend. Goldhuber is combining an ambient score Geoff Gersh
composed for a Los Angeles gallery installation with songs by 1960s country
crossover singer Skeeter Davis. “I like the mix, but I’m thoroughly clueless
what the response is going to be,” he admits happily.
April 22-25, Abrons Arts Center, Henry Street
Settlement, 466 Grand St. (at Pitt St.), 212-352-3101; $20.