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BEST CHOREOGRAPHER Minneapolis 2001 - Robin Stiehm

In the 20 years that Robin Stiehm has been dancing, she has assimilated a range of styles from classical ballet to postmodern moves. Her recent choreography compresses and redirects these aesthetics into startlingly original dance images. The four works presented in Stiehm's concert at the Southern Theater in March coalesced into an erotic architecture where meticulously constructed forms throbbed with heat and light. Eric Boone's performance of "In a Room, Gambling" was perhaps the keynote for Stiehm's vision. An intense, androgynous presence, Boone performed a series of enigmatic variations with two other men. But this was not just another dance about sexual do-si-do-ing. In a series of spare, shimmering gestures, Boone seemed to be mining his sensuality and ruminating on its transformative power. The other works on this program also reflected a passionate and clearly focused vision in which there was not a wasted motion or an arbitrary gesture. A women's quartet, "Speak Slow, Abandon Caution," took the dancers on distended forays into space. As in a cubist portrait, parts of their bodies veered radically off center, reconfiguring into vibrant new forms. Yet the dancing was also self-contained, almost austere, as if these women were risking life and limb to achieve absolute clarity. Stiehm's work is abstract in the best sense of that elusive term--emotion contained and transfigured by form.

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