Review: You’ll Never Dance Alone (a Solo)

Review: You’ll Never Dance Alone (a Solo)


Ms. Valencia, who is in her mid-30s, has been working for the past few years in an autobiographical mode, striking a tone that can be both funny and mournful. Like “Yugoslavia” (2017) and “Album” (2018), “Bouquet” is a multidimensional monologue, as physical and musical as it is verbal. Thirty-something, she proves, is not too early for a retrospective, which is, after all, just a way of taking stock of where you are. In parts of “Bouquet,” she recycles excerpts from her past work, including dances created with Ms. Okrent, her close friend, from 2010 to 2014.

As she enters the space — wearing khakis, a blue unitard and voluminous curls — a bundle of objects, like a traveler’s satchel, rests onstage. Untying it, she distributes its contents around the room and names them, directing an amusingly long metal pointer at each: a pitcher, a bandanna, a blow-up globe (“the earth”) and more.

Whether rhythmically rearranging items or jerkily ambulating, Ms. Valencia moves with a vivid efficiency: solid, assured. Her dancing seems almost as tangible as the objects around her, as if it, too, could be bundled up and carried.

Her collection of steps expands as she quotes Trisha Brown’s “Spanish Dance,” Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations” and angular Lester Horton exercises (the technique underlying Ailey’s dances). Intercutting gestures from the stories she tells — about smoking in high school or dancing cumbia in Mexico — she whips up a speedy montage, corralling decades of dance history and personal history into the span of a few minutes.

Recognizing all the selves that constitute her own, and the wider systems she’s a part of, Ms. Valencia ends with a chanting of “shout outs,” inviting the audience to join. These, and the work’s other texts, can be found in an accompanying book, which I enjoyed reading on the train ride home. While a dance, like a life, must end, it’s nice, when it’s over, to have something to hold in your hands.



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