Molissa Fenley
Press Quotes

"Molissa Fenley and her quietly eloquent dancers created landscapes of fragile, mysterious beauty. Ms. Fenley’s gift for shifting formal patterns and the transparency of her performers, all women, were even more important. She and her five dancers might have been a tribe of solemn young virgin warriors in "Water Courses," set to music and evocative text by the poet Joy Harjo that suggested with welcome delicacy a world of female need, regret and anger. The piece is built around a continual but unobtrusive drowing in and pulling away froma magnetic center in richly layered patterning, with the dancers moving as if impelled by sudden breathlike bursts of energy. Ms. Fenley’s new "Kuro Shio," set to a vivid score by Bun-Ching Lam, was even richer. Here the performers might have been alert atoms moving thorugh space in orderly but unpredicable progressions. At times the women were totems. At other times they paired and moved as one. Each was a secret, at play in an inscrutable world filled with tension and an odd serentity.
—Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times, November 21, 2003

(Pola’a) "is a beautiful, flowing duet, full of sweeps and curls, twists and curlicues – classic in outline, modern in manner. The two of them go handsomely together, Fenley gamely keeping pace with Peter Boal’s natural and tireless virtuosity."
—Clive Barnes, New York Post, January 18, 2002

"Fenley’s dancing was a marvel of strength, discipline and inner focus. The precision and artistry can captivate you whether you know the fine points or not."
—Sharon McDaniel, The Palm Beach Post, January 7, 2001

"Just when I thought Molissa Fenley’s dancing in her modern solos couldn’t be beat, Peter Boal’s tour de force in "State of Darkness" nailed me to my chair. It was a triple whammy: Fenley’s gripping choreography set to Stravinsky’s "Rite of Spring" plus Boal’s powerhouse performance."
—Sharon McDaniel, The Palm Beach Post, January 7,2001

Molissa Fenley has "the ability to translate images of nature into dance with sheer elegance."
—Gia Kourlas, Time Out NY, February 7, 2000

"She is noted for her enormous strength in commanding a large stage during solo concerts. The delicate effect of Fenley’s small frame, her finesse and superb attention to each tiny detail of gesture all belie her great stamina and muscularity. It was a treat to watch a performer like this in an intimate space. The audience could almost reach out and touch her at moments. Any flaw, and there were none that I could see, would stand out disturbingly."
—Jennifer Noyer, Albuquerque Journal, May 16, 2000

"Fenley is the perfection of grace. Her limbs, ankles, wrists, torso, head, neck, all connected through an incredibly sinuous spine, are trained to act together or apart with transparent coordination – transparent because you are only aware of flow and arabesque and a breathtaking sense of freedom, never of the tremendous physical strength and discipline that must be there to support it."
—Stephen Pedersen, The Chronicle-Herald, May 26, 1999

"Ms. Fenley’s "Timbral Inventions", would very likely be a beauty in any setting. Essentially a closely worked series of shifting groups and lines in three flowing sections, the piece creates a sense of luminously vital space on the stage. Seven dancers, all women, stand motionless at the start of this invitingly peaceful, reflective piece. They never travel far, sometimes even dancing in place. Their moving bodies retain Ms. Fenley’s signature image of columnar centers and articulated limbs. The intricately plotted, slow-shifting permutations through which they slip are the inheritance of 1960’s dance post-modernism in New York.
—Jennifer Dunning, The New York Times, August 14, 1999

"Fenley’s quietly cerebral solos are more an exploration of an inner life than a bravura display. The affectations of a classically trained dancer were not a part of Boal’s performance. He was able both to effectively emulate Fenley’s style of movement and to bring his own emphasis and shape to the role. After seeing Fenley dance "Tala" to open the evening, watching Boal was somewhat eerie, not because of the expected differences in training and backgrounds, but instead because the two bodies moved similarily and seemingly with the same inspiration, yet made different artistic decisions. Though "State of Darkness" is an abstract work, it allowed Boal to be emotionally expressive."
—Caitlin Sims, Dance Europe, Oct/Nov 1999

"The two women were radiant: One danced, the other played the cello. And Thursday's spectacle of Molissa Fenley and Joan Jeanrenaud together in perfect sympathy at Theater Artaud was deeply satisfying for dance and music lovers alike."
—Octavio Roca, San Francisco Chronicle, May 8, 1999

"You might call Fenley a maximalist; building on solid modern dance training, she uses every muscle in her grueling, elegant choreography, slipping into movements from other cultures if they supply the appropriate response to an emotional impulse. Yet the body remains so beautifully balanced through its central axis that the risk-taking nature of the choreography is always offset by a certain poise, even serenity....It's downright surprising these days to find phrase making of the clarity of Fenley's; she almost seems like an anachronism in an age when rigor is deemed dated and restrictive. Friday's pieces looked as fresh as the morning...Fenley is at the height of her considerable powers."
—Allan Ulrich, San Francisco Examiner, February 8, 1997

"Choreographically, the signature is in asymmetrical shapes, a contrast between a curved back and the angles or straight lines of a dancer's arms and a surprising number of shifts of weight and dynamics. Yet repeatedly, Ms. Fenley's choice of collaborators changes our view of her work. Trace is an ingenious example in which costumes, décor and sound enhance the dancing in an original way and yet do not dominate."
—Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times, January 30, 1997

"Channel is minimal, reverent...the onstage musicians who play Somei Satoh's silence-filled Sanyo (Akikazu Nakamura on shakuhachi and Masako Kawamura on koto) are as interesting to watch as Fenley....Looking slightly like a Cretan snake goddess, Fenley slowly manipulates objects designed by Richard Serra. A large, gleaming, split-open fish becomes shield, platter, mirror. Her arms echo the shape of a heavy suspended bronze ring."
—Deborah Jowitt, The Village Voice, February 9, 1993

"The purity and integrity of Molissa Fenley's solo dancing and choreography, with her adventurous exploration of contemporary music, came to the fore here with three premieres on Saturday night at the Joyce Theater."
—Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times, January 20, 1992

"Molissa Fenley has extraordinary control of her body. Strength, deliberation and discipline combine with an incredible grace in Fenley's dances. Her performance at the American Dance Festival proved that one dancer can fill a stage and satisfy."
The Herald Sun, June 23, 1993

"Ms. Smith's sculpture consists of a suspended silvery figure, a white plaster female statue standing at a tilt and two others slightly raised in a lying position. Into this possible tomb and shrine, Ms. Fenley, hair cropped close, red torso and face glowing, wanders in, while Alvin Lucier's sustained electronic chord suggests an eternity. The choreography has the flattened, hingelike arms and plies of Ms. Fenley's contemplative solos. Here, however, her focus, grandiloquent in its concentration, is directed outward. Acolyte and priest, she works up to approaching the standing statue and even puts her arm around it. There is a sense of nameless ritual as the worshiper, through willed power, reaches a godly state."
—Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times, October 9, 1993