Danielle Agami has the gift of turning awkwardness into something beautiful. After her terrific hour-long mouth to mouth, you feel you know something slightly crazy about each of the eight dancers in her new Los Angeles–based company, Ate9. In the manner of Ohad Naharin and his Batsheva Dance Company, with whom Agami danced and served as rehearsal director, the dancers are exposed, vulnerable, not quite pulled together but celebrating their own eccentricities. They performed last weekend and have one more performance coming up on May 31.

Genna Moroni, David Maurice, Ariana Daub, Sarah Butler, photo by by Scott Simock

Genna Moroni, David Maurice, Ariana Daub, Sarah Butler, photo by by Scott Simock

Although the piece is not overtly narrative dance, there are many little stories within it. David Maurice gently touches Sarah Butler, manipulating parts of her body into twisty positions. He is not caressing her but the way his hands move toward and away from her body speaks of warmth and caring. And then he gently bops her on the head and walks away. She runs after him, tackles him to the ground, and drags him offstage.

Rebecah Goldstone on floor, Scott McAcabe at right, photo by Scott Simock

Rebecah Goldstone on floor, photo by Scott Simock

Although a portion of Agami’s choreographic ability comes from her work with Basheva, another portion is totally her own voice. There are references to bourrées and classic port de bras that are neither mockery nor wannabe but just make use of a sudden lightness. There’s a humor throughout and a pleasure in the music choices. While Nina Simone sings “That Ain’t Good,” David Maurice dances an astonishing body-disruptive solo. Since the piece is called mouth to mouth, you pay attention to the kisses, which start off as clumsy, mis-aimed attempts and end up being softer, nurturing mouth-to mouth-contact.

May 31, Salvatore Capezio Theater, Peridance, NYC. Click here for info.

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