The New York Times: Darrah Carr Dance: A Bit of the Irish in Movements for Hands, Feet and Heart

The New York Times
The Arts
March 1, 2001

“Darrah Carr Dance: A Bit of the Irish in Movements for Hands, Feet and Heart”
By Jennifer Dunning

Darrah Carr Dance came close to putting a new wrinkle into New York modern dance with a program of pieces on Sunday night at Joyce SoHo that added Irish step-dancing to the modern mix.  The most engaging were three works firmly rooted in one genre or the other, avoiding the slightly bland hybrid quality of some longer full-company works.

Ms. Carr and Niall O’Leary, a guest artist who is an award-winning Irish dancer, made a fine pair in “Somersault/Southern Dance” and “Rince Spuineogai.”  Ms. Carr, a dancer with Mark Dendy and others, a dance writer and the assistant choreographer for the musical “James Joyce’s ‘The Dead,’” is a smiling, exuberant performer with an open upper body and fast-flying feet straight out of Irish step-dancing.  Mr. O’Leary, her co-choreographer in the duets, has a charmingly sleepy look and moves with his arms pinned close to his body in the vertical comportment of step dancing.

Their contrasting styles are the heart of “Somersault/Southern Dance,” set to traditional Irish tunes arranged by Mr. O’Leary and Jimmy Walsh.  Mr. O’Leary plays the spoons as accompaniment for Ms. Carr in “Rince Spuineogai” as she edges about him in a step-dance solo that seems to draw energy from his quick-moving hands.

Ms. Carr’s new “Cuimhne Fado,” set to a score by Sean Oriada and traditional music arranged by Edgar Meyer, recalls Synge’s “Riders to the Sea” in its brooding, stylized portrayal of four women as mourners.  Their dignity was epitomized by Kathrine Atkins’ poignant slow stretching and huddling in the central solo in a cast completed by Amanda Callahan, Yoon-Jeong Jin and Soo Kyoung Jung.

Ms. Carr’s immensely likable and skillful dancers moved through all eight works with a space-gobbling buoyancy and openness, personified by Ms. Callahan, that made it look as if they might take flight.  The troupe included Victoria Gochenour, Karen Lavelle and Jennifer McDaniel.

Darrah Carr