Dance from the Shtetl of L.A.


Bodytraffic, a young company from Los Angeles, is doing something right: they’ve got dynamic, versatile dancers and eclectic programming that hits a nice spattering of moods. At the Joyce this week, they captured surreal vaudevillian whimsy in Barak Marshall’s “And at midnight, the green bride floated through the village square…” and maintained impressive energy for Richard Siegal’s bouncy “The New 45.” A world premiere from Israel-born choreographer Hofesh Shechter, “Dust,” had his clear stamp of quasi-political aggression, which still intrigues me.

It struck me as the flipside to Marshall, also of Israeli stock. Both seem to have roots in the shtetl, though Marshall and his sunny Yiddish pop gives it a nostalgic filter while Shechter, with his Tevye arm shakes and hunched rebbe scuffles in dark shadows, seems more haunted by the memories.

All the Jewiness aside, a highlight of the program was Victor Quijada’s “Once Again, Before You Go” a polished distillation of his artistic vision that blends hip-hop, break dance and modern dance. Often that combo feels forced, here it’s organic and poignant. The dancers’ wobbly steps and sputtering footwork against Jasper Gahunia’s compassionate score suggest an emotional vulnerability that hip-hop dance so often lacks.