Rouge — Zenon Dance Company — Image via

Rouge, Appétit & Ezekiel’s Wheel

Zenon Dance Company

In performances over the past two weekends, Minneapolis’s Zenon Dance Company presented not one but two world premieres alongside a popular work from their repertoire — three pieces inhabiting different moods but all danced with a shared assertive athleticism.

First up was Joanna Kotze’s Rouge, the New York-based choreographer’s second Twin Cities premiere of the year following The rest of everything with James Sewell Ballet. Much like that piece, Rouge was stylistically eclectic and consistently engaging, combining equal doses of precision and playfulness. At many points, the dancers seemed to be toying with the boundary between the mechanical and the fluid, with movements combining elements of both. Geometrically complex interactions between the dancers were another recurring element of the piece, while Ryan Seaton’s glitchy electronic soundtrack was a perfect fit with the rising and falling tension of the choreography.

Appétit — Zenon Dance Company — Image via was the second premiere on the program, Stefanie Batten Bland’s Appétit, developed during Zenon’s recent residency in Cassis, France. In her comments about the piece, Zenon artistic director Linda Z. Andrews identified gluttony as its main theme. Specifically, it seemed to me to focus on the act of claiming, starting with the incantation, “It’s mine,” uttered repeatedly at the beginning, and followed by a number of interactions in which the dancers seemed to be claiming, or trying to claim, both the stage and each other. Dancing in street clothes and backed by Jean-Philippe Barrios’s original score, the company gave the piece an absorbing performance.

After the intermission came Danny Buraczeski’s Ezekiel’s Wheel, premiered by his Jazzdance company in 1999 and revived by that company and Zenon several times since. Inspired by the work of James Baldwin and danced to a suite of songs by Philip Hamilton and Peter Jones, the piece was more straightforwardly emotional than the other works on the program, with both the dance and the music addressing themes of enthusiasm, disappointment, pain, and reconciliation.

Photos by William Cameron

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Eric Prindle

administers Bad Entertainment. He is also an attorney who leads a team of legal marketing copywriters at FindLaw. He is not Eric Prindle, the mixed martial arts fighter.