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A DANCER’S EYE: ARIAS at Jacob’s Pillow, a treat to watch

The pas de deux between Ana Maria Lucaciu and Jermaine Spivey was enchanting, beautiful and had a quality of partnering I hadn’t seen before.

Becket — Bryan Arias, the founder of the brand-new ARIAS Company, is an up-and-coming choreographer. Certainly someone to watch, Mr. Arias, born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, has danced with Complexions, Kidd Pivot and Netherlands Dance Theatre. I was intrigued, especially since he has been lucky enough to choreograph with Jirí Kylián, noted choreographer for Netherlands Dance Theatre.

“a rather lovely thing” was a world premiere. It started with all four of the company dancers standing perfectly still for thirty seconds. One of them was wearing a mask to begin with. In fact, masks became a motif, used frequently during the piece. At one point, I noticed, as they were passing a mask to one another, that as soon as a dancer put on the mask, his or her movements became much less exaggerated and closer to the body. It gave me the sense of the difference between old and young people’s movements, partly because the mask had grey hair and wrinkles.

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Jermaine Spivey and Ana Maria Lucaciu in ‘a rather lovely thing.’ Photo: Christopher Duggan

The most lovely part of the entire piece was a pas de deux between Ana Maria Lucaciu and Jermaine Spivey. Danced to “20:17” by Ólafur Arnalds and Nils Frahm’s ’78’ recording. It was enchanting, beautiful, and had a new quality of partnering that I hadn’t seen before. They danced to the music in an unusual, almost syncopated way, as was true with most of Arias’ choreography. It was very interesting, even haunting, to watch.

All dancers were very in tune with their bodies. Their joints seemed to be greased; they moved in odd fashions, different parts of their bodies moving at different times in angular counterpoint, all loose and fluid. Spencer Theberge, for instance, had a moment in which he was doing some body percussion, but he moved with ease, not as if he were focusing on making noise with his body, as a flamenco dancer might.

This company was a treat to watch. I look forward to seeing ARIAS Company again, and I wonder how the company will have developed and grown under the guidance of Mr. Arias.

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Arias Company is performing it the Doris Duke Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow in Becket, Massachusetts through July 31. For tickets and information, consult the Berkshire Edge calendar.

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