Stephen Petronio Company at the Joyce

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By Janet Allon

The veteran, and yet still youthful, choreographer Stephen Petronio opened his short run at the Joyce last night. It was both a star-studded affair, and a performance filled with athleticism and extraordinary, sometimes challenging beauty. Petronio, who describes himself as the bastard child of modern dance pioneers Steve Paxton and Trisha Brown, opened the show himself with a reprise of Paxton's "Intravenous Lecture," a spoken word dance on the theme of censorship, and art. The piece was groundbreaking when Paxton made it in 1970, and it retains its power to, if not shock, at least wow, opening as it does with a doctor inserting an IV drip in Petronio's arm. He remains attached to the pole and bag as he recounts adventures in London, where he was arrested for wearing a so-called lewd Vivienne Westwood t-shirt, and espouses his general philosophy of love and celebration of the body.

(Photo courtesy of the Stephen Petronio Company. Photo by Julie Lemberger.)

The rest of the program consists of two largish group dances which Petronio choreographed ten years apart, City of Twist, a kind of homage to New York after 9-11, and the brand new number The Architecture of Loss. In both cases the striking movement and counterintuitive choreography is well-served not only by the amazing dancers, but by costumes that in every way serve their purpose of showing the beauty bodies, backwards mens shirts, worn with no pants, by Tara Subkoff/Imitation of Christ, and extraordinary loosely yarned shirts and dresses by Gudrun and Gudrun. Hypnotic music by Laurie Anderson and Valgeir Sigurosson, and a brief solo by prima ballerina Wendy Whelan, of the New York City Ballet, round out the star-studdedness. On view until March 11, but Whelan is only there until the 9th.

The Stephen Petronio Company program runs through Sunday, Mar. 11, at the Joyce Theater, 175 8th Ave. (betw. 18th and 19th Sts.), to purchase tickets or for more details visit.

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