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DANCE Review

Brian Brooks puts his Moving Company in gear

Brian Brooks and Wendy Whelan in the duet “First Fall.”Christopher Duggan

The name pretty much says it: The Brian Brooks Moving Company is all about moving. But it’s not just about how we move; it’s about the patterns we move in, the direction, and how we move against one another. Brooks brought six pieces to the Citi Shubert Theatre Saturday, under the auspices of Celebrity Series of Boston, but the big name was his guest star, former New York City Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelan.

Brooks’s “First Fall” (2012) is one of four duets, by four choreographers, that make up “Restless Creature,” the program Whelan has been touring since her farewell performance at NYCB last October. In the course of the 15-minute piece, which is set to music from the album “Brooklyn Rider Plays Philip Glass,” Brooks and Whelan seldom separate. There’s a section in which they tussle with each other’s arms, but “First Fall” is mostly about weight, Brooks bending and Whelan falling stiff-limbed onto him, forward, backward, sideways, always leaning on him and being half-carried, half-dragged as he crawls about. The piece is as unsettling as it is original; they could be Adam and Eve falling from Paradise.


Brooks, who grew up in Hingham, danced with Elizabeth Streb, and the physical audacity of her movement style has rubbed off on him. The program opener, “I’m Going to Explode” (2007), found him wearing a suit and tie and sitting in an office chair. The jacket and the shoes came off, and over the next minutes, the tie got loosened and the shirt untucked as, moving to LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge,” he waved his hands at his side, freed his shoulders, then his pelvis, and finally his feet, bent his elbows, abandoned his initial spot, and seemed ready to, well, explode. Ultimately the music stopped, whereupon he put his coat and shoes back on and sat down again.

In “Division” (2014), the six dancers entered with lightweight wood-grain panels, which they carried, slid, passed back and forth, hid behind, performed duets with, and did everything but construct the box that the panels seemed destined for. At the end they let them fall in a neat diagonal across the stage before exiting. “Descent” (2011) was also about weight: At the beginning the dancers lugged one another as if they were crosses; a contrasting section in the middle featured colored fabrics kept aloft, dancing overhead; and it all finished with the six of them in a heap, one atop the other. The duet from “Motor” (2010) paired Brooks and Matthew Albert in 10 minutes of unison hopping, first on one foot, then the other, back and forth, almost gliding in circles, now side by side, now separating, a technical tour de force.


The closer, “Torrent,” was a 2014 restaging, for eight performers, of a piece originally choreographed for 24. To Max Richter’s “recomposition” of music from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons,” the dancers sashayed, swooped, twirled, kicked, lined up, and ran on and off in what could have been a salute to Mark Morris. Couples formed and re-formed, without gender, without identity. It was all very celebratory, but I’d as soon have seen “First Fall” again.

Jeffrey Gantz can be reached at