For Company Stefanie Batten Bland’s Symphony Space debut, May 22 & 23, the bi- continental choreographer Stefanie Batten Bland taps into the treasure chest of her family’s talent. Music is contributed by her father, legendary jazz composer and musician Ed Bland; the dance films are by her husband, the award-winning French filmmaker Guillaume Le Grontec, and the choreography is by the former Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company principal herself. No wonder the evening in which the dance and film are theatrically united, is entitled All In The Family. The performances take place in the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space.
“The Polished Hoes,” a tribute to Bland’s own racially mixed background including her great grandmother, “the darkest of the family,” and her eldest brother, a former heroin addict, expresses Bland’s faith in the power of intimacy and human love to help mitigate pain. Taking place in a courtyard with hanging drying clothes, the dance, a duet between Bland and Raphaël Kaney Duverger, is accompanied by original music by Jean-Philippe Barrios, along with Lambarena Gabon rhythms and selections from Bach, James Brown, and Louisiana Creole music.
“Beneath our Feet…,” set to music by Ed Bland and Jean-Philippe Barrios, is a light, at times playful meditation that moves from earth to air and back again with the greatest of ease.
“Apart One Word or Two,” which combines music by Frederick Chopin and Cliff Martinez, has the five performers dancing through shadows and moving in and out of light to create shifting stage patterns, alternately calling attention to small gestures and the full dancing body.
Threaded through the evening, the three dance-for-camera films, choreographed by Bland and directed by Le Grontec, are shown on disposable screens and paper curtains designed to invite interaction with the live dancers. “34th Street,” a New York rooftop solo for Bland, which uses music by Ed Bland, was shown at festivals in South Africa and Brazil. “Playground Love,” a quartet of solos for Bland, Julie Bour, Ayo Janeen Jackson and Desmond Richardson, is set to music by Air. It was most recently shown at the 2009 Sans Souci Film Festival, as was “Shoplift,” which is performed by Andréa Bescond and Grishka Caruge, and set to music by Mychael Danna.