Zoe | Juniper brings Scofield choreography to FringeArts
Merilyn Jackson, For The Inquirer

Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2015, 3:01 AM A snippet of Zoe Scofield's choreography was seen last fall at the FringeArts Festival in a piece commissioned for Pennsylvania Ballet dancers. With her BeginAgain opening at FringeArts on Thursday night, Scofield and her company Zoe | Juniper present an evening length dance that ranged from tender and mysterious to fearless and bitchy, but always retained an eerie dreaminess of self and otherness.

Visual artist and Scofield's partner in art and life, Juniper Shuey, makes up the other half of the Seattle-based Zoe | Juniper.

Shuey set the otherworldly mood with dirt. Whether grave, garden or playground, a lustrous scrim for his video projections intersected the two large triangles of dirt. An intricately cut paper wall by Celeste Cooning, suggesting leaves, backdropped the dirt triangles. On one side lies a plaster cast of a female body, from which ultimately slips a real woman, leaving behind a hollow cadaver.

Scofield and dancer Ariel Freedman wear lacey gray dresses that echo the patterns on the paper wall suggesting the motifs of imago and twinning iterated throughout. Not perfectly synchronized, their movement seems like distorted shadows of each other.

To begin, again, the synchronization is angularized, elbows bent upwards, knees going one way, ankles the other, yet all weirdly, poetically balletic. (Scofield studied ballet at Walnut Hill School for the Arts and learned Thursday that she received a hefty Guggenheim Fellowship.) Arabesque penchés end with those angled legs, looking more birdlike than ballerina. Some steps begin in perfect fifth position, held long enough to recognize.

The dance becomes more agitated, less careful as the cast-out dancer, Kim Lusk, roughly manipulates Freedman's limbs. Scofield, on the other side of the scrim, mimics Freedman's moves, as if also controlled, but by an unseen partner. Once reunited, the duet devolves into a violent fight between Scofield and Freedman, formerly of Israel's Batsheva Dance Company.

At times the score, designed by Julian Martlew, evokes the watery ghostliness of Gavin Bryars' music for Merce Cunningham's Biped; at others, the brutally amped guitars of Glenn Branca. Near the end of the final duet, peacefulness descends as Sacred Harp chanting begins. John Pyburn, who has been plastering another dancer's limbs, sings a soothing French chanson as Amiya Brown's entrancing lighting design dims.

Additional performance: 8 p.m. Saturday at FringeArts, 140 N. Columbus Blvd. Tickets: $15-20. Information: 215-413-9006 or www.fringearts.com.