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

If you noticed Mariana Valencia’s “Yugoslavia,” one in every of her current solos, you’ll acknowledge the illuminated portray that hangs on the wall in “Bouquet,” her new work on the Chocolate Factory Theater in Queens. It depicts the title: flowers on a desk, in a vase.

“My dad made this portray,” she informs us matter-of-factly. “He was a Sunday painter.”

She isn’t any much less dry or direct when reporting, a bit of later, “My dad is lifeless.”

That reality is one in every of many, about her life and her artwork, that Ms. Valencia relays on this unassuming, deceptively touching, less-than-an-hourlong present, which opened on Thursday. Originally deliberate as a duet with the dancer Lydia Okrent, the piece seems to be a solo. Or is it? Ms. Valencia is the one individual onstage, however one thought she imparts is that we’re by no means alone: We are the product of our communities and histories, our dad and mom and associates, songs we’ve heard and dances we’ve discovered.

Or as she places it, “a self isn’t simply itself.” A self is a part of an ensemble, one stem in a bouquet.

Ms. Valencia, who’s in her mid-30s, has been working for the previous few years in an autobiographical mode, placing a tone that may be each humorous and mournful. Like “Yugoslavia” (2017) and “Album” (2018), “Bouquet” is a multidimensional monologue, as bodily and musical as it’s verbal. Thirty-something, she proves, shouldn’t be too early for a retrospective, which is, in spite of everything, only a means of taking inventory of the place you might be. In components of “Bouquet,” she recycles excerpts from her previous work, together with dances created with Ms. Okrent, her shut buddy, from 2010 to 2014.

As she enters the area — sporting khakis, a blue unitard and voluminous curls — a bundle of objects, like a traveler’s satchel, rests onstage. Untying it, she distributes its contents across the room and names them, directing an amusingly lengthy steel pointer at every: a pitcher, a bandanna, a blow-up globe (“the earth”) and extra.

Whether rhythmically rearranging gadgets or jerkily ambulating, Ms. Valencia strikes with a vivid effectivity: stable, assured. Her dancing appears virtually as tangible because the objects round her, as if it, too, might be bundled up and carried.

Her assortment of steps expands as she quotes Trisha Brown’s “Spanish Dance,” Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations” and angular Lester Horton workout routines (the method underlying Ailey’s dances). Intercutting gestures from the tales she tells — about smoking in highschool or dancing cumbia in Mexico — she whips up a speedy montage, corralling a long time of dance historical past and private historical past into the span of some minutes.

Recognizing all of the selves that represent her personal, and the broader techniques she’s part of, Ms. Valencia ends with a chanting of “shout outs,” inviting the viewers to affix. These, and the work’s different texts, might be present in an accompanying ebook, which I loved studying on the prepare journey residence. While a dance, like a life, should finish, it’s good, when it’s over, to have one thing to carry in your palms.

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