Posted by Asher on:
Stephen Petronio’s fifth time at UCSB culminated in a night of provocative narrative and impressive physicality set to the backdrop of the powerful and prodigious music of Nick Cave. Underland, a production that Petronio choreographed in eight weeks in the heart of Sydney, Australia, looks at the cyclical and subconscious emotionality of Cave’s work through the physical manifestation of the body as the site onto which “the dark beauty of his music, its rawness, pain and redemption” saturate the dancers’ movements with pronounced mastery and passion. The pieces illuminated Cave’s predilection towards the battle of lightness and darkness and his unique articulation of communal struggle and salvation. In the Q&A after the performance, Petronio noted how blessed he was to work with so many dedicated performers and collaborators in a creative space where, after twenty five years in the business, he could finally have the confidence to illustrate Cave’s lyrics through textured flashes that slide back and forth between abstraction and explicit illustration. With industrial overtones and muscular grace, the Stephen Petronio Dance Company moved the audience with their sultry agility and blurring movements in pieces that aptly depicted Cave’s focus on the journey of both the submission and exaltation of the human soul.