Rhythm Nation

Choreographer Jordana Toback on her latest work, “Poon,” and a scoop.

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After its debut, producers hope to take the whole show — seven-piece orchestra and all — on the road.

Toback spent seven years toiling under the tutelage of Mark Morris, before breaking away to join the underground rock scene. And today, just a week before showtime, she is putting her dancers through their paces just like her former master. "I say the same things he did, like, ‘It’s your life, you live it,’ or ‘It’s your book, you write it.’ It’s the stuff he used to yell at me, and I didn’t get it," Toback tells her dancers. "Now, I get it."

The troupe changes into Liz Collins’ white ruffled dresses for the next dance, which, like the others, drifts between moods of aggression and dreaminess. "I don’t work in a certain vocabulary, I work with rhythms," explains Toback, who is herself by turns both hyper and laid-back. There’s a little hip-hop in this number, but there are cartwheels, mystical hand movements and a tango’s tight turns, too. The dancers tick across the room like weird windup dolls, then collapse.

"I find the rhythm of Eastern dance so inspiring," Toback concludes. "Ballet is so square."
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