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Cecly Placenti, Artistic Director

  • Writer's pictureCecly Placenti

Project 44 and Annalee Traylor

Updated: Jan 23, 2021

Take Root at Green Space Studio

February 8, 2020

Project 44

Artistic Director: Gierre Godley

Choreography: Gierre Godley, Flavien Esmieu

Dancers: Peter Cheng, Alex Clauss, Gierre Godley

Annalee Traylor

Choreography: Annalee Traylor

Dancers: Ian Spring, Hank Hunter, Allie Kronick, Emily Diers, Marlaina Reigelsberger, Amanda Summers, Abigail Kelvas, Emma Lalor, Carlos Sanchez Falu, Lloyd Boyd, Omar Roman De Jesus

The Manhattan skyline glimmers through the windows of a former silk factory where choreographers Gierre Godley and Annalee Traylor show off their most recent work. The Take Root festival, now in its 11th season, gives dance artists the opportunity to root down and draw nourishment from technical and marketing support provided by Valerie Green and Green Space Studio, where they can explore their vision and craft.

Although utilizing different movement styles, Godley and Traylor both present emotionally intricate and compelling work that draws on universal themes of resilience, control, identity, and the negative effects outside influences can have on one's mind.

Godley’s Run Boy Run unfolds like a meditation. On a shadowy stage he jogs in place, determined to push forward yet getting nowhere. The words “Because I always feel like running. Not away, because there’s no such place” echo over music by Gil Scott-Heron. Introspective but not resigned, Godley sits in a chair then sinks to the floor. He rises with languid smoothness, his hands parting silk. A tall man, he wafts to the floor and ascends like a leaf in the wind. No matter how many times he slips he rises again undefeated, his palms skating on the surface of the air, fingers searching for a place in space.

In The Empath and The Narcissist (Part I), dancer Dylan Balka drifts in and out of a large circle of light, illuminating both sides of a toxic relationship. Carefully he advances, running a hand through his hair and softly touching his heart. As he moves, the sphere of light becomes a cage and his vignettes grow more agitated. He shouts words from the darkness as his gestures assemble. “What?!” “Fuck” “Shit” “Help!” “Damn” “You.” His gentle caresses become slaps that undulate through his body like trauma searching for a way out. As his hands grab at his throat, bound and controlled, we see both defilement and resignation. Balka vacillates between control and desperation, the character of abuser and abused vying for permanent residence in his body. He forces himself to stillness, melts into alluring poses, cries into his hands, hypnotically shifting moods. As the solo progresses, Balka is less and less in control, pushed and pulled sometimes willingly, sometimes unable to resist. As the Narcissist he is bold and commanding, charming with strength and sensual flow. As the Empath he is erratic, off-balance. His gestures reach a violent crescendo and he desperately shouts his litany of exclamations. His strength wanes with each round yet he is unable to stop the cycle, unable to break away from what is tearing him apart.

Choreographer Annalee Traylor’s quirky, fast paced choreography is well paired with Godley’s gestural flow. Her bound actions both stop in time and tumble together simultaneously, making her dancers appear like puppets on a string. In the sheen, 3 women wearing bright colored dresses move like wind-up dolls that have short circuited. Allie Kronick, Emily Diers, and Marlaina Reigelsberger compete for the attention of Ian Spring and Hank Hunter with wild abandon. Envy, flirtation, joy, and desperation fling from their arms and legs as they slide and skitter in flexed footed jumps. There is an urgent attention to each moment in Traylor’s work- not panic but persistence.

In copp(her), Hunter moves with a captivating and peculiar specificity, like the dance is happening to him unwittingly. Romp is full of playful syncopations and jumps, splashes of movement like a Jakson Pollock painting. Arm tosses and skips arrest in suspensions, and sailing turns suddenly punctuate with a rigid arm circle or wrist flick. The dancers abruptly hit the floor and rise, stumbling and staggering, falling and catching each other in drunken camaraderie. Couples meet and roll together, clumsy sexual attempts growing violent until someone steps in and a brawl ensues- a party gone wrong.

Before You Speak, developed through Project 44’s Emerging Choreographer Initiative, is Flavien Esmieu’s contribution to the company. Performer Peter Cheng, his back to the audience, undulates and contorts as if there is a ping pong ball inside him, traversing his veins and sinews, cajoling his body to follow. Impulses carry through his joints. Dancer Alex Clauss enters and they move together as if moving through a viscous surface. Hands carve to sense the new atmosphere. As Godley joins them, moments of unison shift as the dancers pause to watch each other. Lifts develop and rotate like a kaleidoscope and when Cheng breaks away from their embrace, Godley and Clauss watch him in silent support. As he reflects on a past that is still present, Cheng’s intensity mounts, his legs rooting down as his torso spirals, integrating. His searching becomes more confident, forceful, and when left alone again in stillness, his arms and chest pulse with the rhythm of his breath, his mind finally quiet.

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