"In the past few years Mr. Barnett has begun spooling out choreography, constructing elegant, spare works in which stillness and violence (emotional, but also of bucking spines and whiplash bodies) share equal, uneasy time."
"Sometimes stumbling, but never falling or unchecked, the two dancers move flexibly and headstrong through the room. The enormous diversity of the dedicated movements and directions creates a visual space of opening and rounding. Again and again, one is thrown back on their own kinesthetic experience....The impression of endurance runs through the entire piece and is not interrupted surprisingly even by the loud, facilitating outcries by Julian Barnett, nor by the subsequent dialogue between the two, which begins gesturally and then spreads to the voice. These versatile and partly surprising changes, produced an over-all connection with vehement steadfastness and rounding humor."
"...The piece centers on the shifting relationship between two bodies. With their relentless movement and chanting, Barnett and his collaborator Jocelyn Tobias fill the space around them with a kind of hectic energy, like gathering vibrations on the eve of the big bang."
"There was a constant sense of coming back, circling back to where you came from. ...Within all of these circles, the piece moved again to a different place, from one of exposure and stimulation to serenity and intimacy. Where the piece ended was so opposite of where it began yet clearly related, like night and day."
"It’s comprised of two overlapping solos, each exploring the connection between vocalisation and movement. Both Tobias and Barnett perform their sections with impressive skill and there is some clever play with body and voice: it’s a conversation, it’s a jazz concert, it’s a confession, it’s a rap, it’s a protest. I find myself drawn in by the deeply embodied sounds the performers are making. ...I have no doubt here: everything is a choice and the attention to detail is thoroughly enjoyable."
"The program’s black sheep — in a breath-of-fresh-air sense — was Mr. Barnett, whose compelling 2009 solo “Echologue” involved a recorder, a microphone and a pair of boots; the boots remained untouched on the stage for the duration. It was an oddly funny detail in an austere work that explored the notion of repercussions. ..."Echologue” was something of a rabbit hole. As Mr. Barnett delved deeper into his material, the sounds and movement became one. In the enveloping darkness, Mr. Barnett shed some of his clothing and laid it on the floor, creating a replication of himself: the ultimate echo."
"Mr. Barnett doesn’t achieve transcendence in “Super Natural,” but he does something almost better. He shows us just how hard, almost impossible, that achievement is and how it is the idea that keeps dancers pushing through impossibly exhausting, emotionally draining work...the rest, which sets Mr. Barnett, Phina Pipia, Justin Ternullo and Jocelyn Tobias — all terrific — in fierce, whiplashing, shoulder-angled, leg-circling sequences, is mesmerizing stuff. Despite its loose, flung-about quality, the movement possesses a consistent tension in the way Mr. Barnett sets body parts in awkward opposition: shoulders constantly turn inward, legs go back when you think they’ll go forward, waists crunch sideways, heads loll as the rest of the body cracks through a phrase. ...At times Mr. Barnett builds these phrases into full-body frenzy, then quietens them into barely perceptible physical murmurs. These moments are marvelous; so is the way he suddenly coheres these apparently random flailing movements into synchronized duos or quartets. Transcendence may not be achieved, but “Super Natural” shows us the hard, hard way toward it."
"Best Dance of 2009. At Danspace Project, Sound Memory was a happy surprise: a rigorous work for three dancers that started with the notion of a mixtape—as in, the now-ancient audiocassette. It created an evocative world of dance theater about memory and imagination."
"Judging by his accomplished new dance, “Sound Memory,” Julian Barnett was once an obsessive maker of mix tapes. He does more than scratch the surface of sound and memory before the age of digitization. Mr. Barnett has found a reason not just to dance, but also to make dances, and in doing so he’s cultivated a potent sound memory for the present."