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Construction  With Varied Materials20015 dancers28 min

I was ready to take a break from working with the film music of Bernard Herrmann after creating four consecutive such works - This is What Happened (1999), Sequel (2000), MacGuffin or How Meanings Get Lost, Revisited (1999, for White Oak Dance Project) and Story (2000, for students at Purchase College).

In casting about for a new direction I started thinking about sequences from previous dances, and found I was itching to work with some of that material again. So for Construction With Varied Materials I worked with a potpourri of dance materials - some from previous dances, some new - butting one up against another to explore new resonances where they meet at the seams. The materials include a solo I originally choreographed for Mikhail Baryshnikov to a Tchaikovsky string quartet (Tchaikovsky Dance, 1998, for White Oak Dance Project), revisited material from The Disco Project, 1995, and new sequences culled from improvisations danced to duets by Ray Charles and Betty Carter (Carter is a favorite of mine) and in silence.

I included a light sprinkling of projected text throughout Construction, just six lines in all, each referring directly to the source movement from which the concurrent onstage action was made: 
       wrist material
       hopscotch material
        This material is from 1996.
       Sister Sledge
I think the text helped to expose some of the joints connecting materials within the progression of the dance, along with something of a choreographic process at work. A friend told me they experienced Construction as if they were seeing the nature of thought, of ideas moving around in a mind, which made perfect (non)sense to me. Certainly I was interested in gesturing toward the materiality of the body, and perhaps also toward a materiality of thought. 

Finally, I’d be remiss not to mention the rock ‘n’ roll lighting by Michael Stiller, certainly another of the significant materials of the work. 

Premiered at The Kitchen, NYC in March, 2001

Choreography and Text: Neil Greenberg

Performed by: Caitlin Cook, Ori Flomin, Neil Greenberg, Paige Martin, Antonio Ramos

Music: Ray Charles & Betty Carter, Tchaikovsky, Sister Sledge

Music Remixes: Zeena Parkins

Lighting Design: Michael Stiller

Costumes: Liz Prince


New York State Council on the Arts

Harkness Foundation for Dance

Purchase College Faculty Support Fund.

Videotaped by the Dance Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts for preservation in the Jerome Robbins Archives of the Recorded Moving Image

Recorded March, 2003 at Dance Theater Workshop, NYC, by Sathya Production Services, Molly McBride, Director.


Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times, 2001

Joseph Carman, The New  York Times, 2001

Deborah Jowitt, Village Voice, 2003

Don Daniels, Ballet Review, 2003

L-R: Cairlin Cook, Neil Greenberg, Paige Martin
© Tom Brazil, 2001

L-R: Neil Greenberg, Ori Flomin, Paige Martin, Antonio Ramos
© Tom Brazil, 2001

Neil Greenberg
© Tom Brazil, 2001