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Annie Leibovitz Presents Pilgrimage

Annie Leibovitz’s newest batch of photos, aptly named Pilgrimage, chronicles her “exercise in renewal,” which begins at Emily Dickinson’s home in Amherst, Massachusetts. A trip to Niagara Falls with her children expands into a quest to enter the worlds of people who interest her, from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Sigmund Freud to Annie Oakley. The finished product interweaves portraits, landscapes, and close-ups of objects in a collage of Leibovitz’s fascinations and concerns. She will speak about the book this Wednesday at BookCourt in Brooklyn.

Wed., Dec. 14, 7 p.m., 2011

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Dance

Riding a wave of enthusiasm for spelling champions, Cristina Septien and her four-year-old South Pleasant Company have mounted a delicate piece of movement theater about a bee. With performances craftily spread over three weeks (it opened last Tuesday in an uptown cabaret space), To One I Saw Small is about things dance cannot really be about: wishes, fears, the past, the future. One of the leading characters never says a word and eventually disappears. Projections indicate the passage of time. Furniture rolls in and out on casters, and its placement carries symbolic weight.

Speller Ruthie (Diana Buirski), who ages from fourth grade to high school in under an hour, does a terrific job with a difficult role. Her father (Chris Corporandy) spends most of the show in a fugue state. The utter lack of irony in the writing and the playing may put hipsters off; To One ranges between charming and sentimental, betraying its New England roots (SPC originated in Amherst, Massachusetts). Too wordy to count as dance, too sober to register as “performance,” it’s a strange hybrid. Maybe its true audience is ‘tweens.

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Word Up

Stephen Petronio’s 70-minute kinetic meditation on time, Not Garden, which opens Tuesday at the Joyce Theater, relies on word and body. In Amherst, Massachusetts, last month, much of the movement was swallowed up in the stylish staging, a problem that should be rectified in the more intimate New York venue.


Petronio and set designer Tal Yarden create a tightly bound landscape, with scrims upstage and down on which emphatic projections of words and images demand attention. A highly selective visual review of past decades plays across the stage, including names of notorious political leaders, terrorist groups, Calvin Klein, Andrea Dworkin, and Dizney [sic]—dictators of every stripe. The typography builds architecturally, punctuated by intentionally iconic imagery.


After Petronio’s solo to Bach’s Ave Maria, the music—an original score by David Linton and ABONECRONEDRONE2 by Sheila Chandra—spits out sounds and zaps the acoustics, a harsh, inhuman reminder inserted between the layers of words and the dance. The per formers move like semaphores within the flattened space, purposefully carving and then in habiting it. For Petronio, long interested in two-dimensionality, Not Garden is almost sculptural. It calls to mind Set and Reset, Trisha Brown’s 1983 dance set against a montage of photographic imagery by Robert Rauschenberg, in which Petronio performed.


The projected images signifying the four elements are mundane in contrast to the truly elemental movement—flowing, crackling, knowledgeable, searching motions. Yet there is no real exploration: the movement continually loops back on itself, flailing and forceful, making patterns not unlike the static on the scrim. Perhaps that’s the point; time flies, and slams and smashes, but it doesn’t go anywhere. In the second act, which Petronio describes as the future, the dancers move backward. The final, nuanced image has Petronio tethered and tilted forward, decidedly leaning rather than leaping into the next millennium.