Rainbow Bright

By Advocate Contributors

Originally published on Advocate.com March 13 2008 12:00 AM ET

The sexy,
playful, and gender-free dances of Brian Brooks Moving
Company have been enlivening the contemporary dance
scene for a decade. “My interest is
simple,” says the affable Brooks. “I think of
dance as a visual art form -- sculpture with the added
elements of time and motion.” Just 33 years
old, Brooks will celebrate his company’s 10th
anniversary with performances as part of the 92nd
Street Y Harkness Dance Festival at the Ailey
Citigroup Theater in New York City. The company's festival
performances began March 12 and will continue March 13
and 15 at 8 p.m. and March 16 at 2 p.m.

Brooks formed his
first dance company in his hometown of Hingham, Mass.,
when he was 14, without any training. At 17 he won a
scholarship to study in Boston. At 20 he came to New
York City and danced for three years with Elizabeth
Streb, who was known for her extreme action spectacles. At
23 he formed the Brian Brooks Moving Company; at
the same time he cofounded the Williamsburg Art neXus
(WAX), an arts facility in Brooklyn.

Brian Brooks, Edward Rice, Weena Pauly, Jo-Anne Lee in Acre (publicity 92 st Y) | Advocate.comBrian Brooks, Edward Rice, Weena Pauly, Jo-anne Lee
in Acre

Brooks is known
for his precise, demanding, vigorous choreography and his
dances devoted to different hues. His work examines the
concept of endurance, asking dancers to launch
themselves impetuously into the air but also to repeat
laborious gestures for an extended period of time with
subtle changes. The dancers often resemble foot soldiers in
boot camp or superheroes, but the mission is always
team-oriented -- and fabulously attired.

For the last week
of this year’s Harkness Festival, Brooks and his
lively young troupe will present repertory hits from
the past 10 years -- featuring dances, costumes, and
decor from works designed entirely in pink, blue,
orange, green, white, and black -- and the world premiere of
a new work, Happy Lucky Sun, performed of course
in yellow.

Brian Brooks and Aaron Walter (in the air); Edward Rice and Weena Pauly (in the corner) in Happy Lucky Sun (publicity 92nd St Y) |Advocate.comBrian Brooks and Aaron Walter (in the air); Edward
Rice and Weena Pauly (in the corner) in Happy Lucky Sun

Included among
some of the work that will be performed is a duet from
Dance-o-Matic, the technotronic, bubblegum "pink"
dance he premiered in 2002. In it Brooks stands on the
shoulders of partner Weena Pauly, both dressed in
sparkling pink bathing suits and pink feather boas, as
they do a sidestepping, knee-dipping routine across the
stage to the song “XXX” by Peaches.
Another work, faster! (2001), is bathed in
orange, with an orange circle on the floor recalling a
circus ring. From 2004’s
Acre, known for its green horizontal
panels, the company will perform a section built around
running, in which partners use suspended lifts to
extend the running motions. And from 2006’s
again again, a dance about the absence of color,
the daredevil troupe will perform a gravity-defying
section in which dancers run up the wall and jump off
it, occasionally supporting each other as they walk
across the wall, parallel to the floor.

But dance
connoisseurs will be most interested in Brooks's latest
work, Happy Lucky Sun, which addresses collision and
the attempt to resist gravity. Brooks says it is the
most extreme piece he has ever created. Although it
incorporates the reiterative but slowly changing
movements that have become the company’s trademark,
the dance has a different momentum, which Brooks
describes as “a lot of little tornados.”
Imagine a rugby game where every player is the ball. Running
around in a tight circle, dancers jump sideways at one
another and are caught, bringing jumper and catcher to
the ground, in a section which gets faster and faster
as it goes on. In another phrase, dancers dive towards each
other and are suspended in air by opposing arms propelling
the oncoming force upward. There are no mats to
cushion hard landings, just each other’s
bodies. As in other works, the dance’s cheery title
and furnishings become ironic in context of the
rigorous choreography.

Brooks is using
the visual art model to distinguish his retrospective.
The seats at the Ailey Citigroup Theater will be removed,
creating an open gallery. The entire floor space will
be used as a stage, with highlights from
Brook’s repertory being performed in colored areas
located throughout the theater. An exhibit card will
accompany each area. Seating will be located in
modules around the space, with inflatable plastic
chairs also available. “It’s designed for
viewing from all sides,” says Brooks. The
colors of the dances, like their energies, will bathe
the audience in a fluorescent glow.