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Performing Arts

November 5, 2017
 

Exercising Female Identity

From Mary Poppins | snippoP yraM. Photo by Kevin Flores.

Always Known, Never Met

Moving Collective

Review by Keith Waits.

Entire contents copyright © 2017 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.

I have always found Moving Collective performances to be engaging and generally more accessible than is often the case in Contemporary Dance. Always Known, Never Met is one of the more abstract programs I have encountered from this company, one with a more somber tone and less levity that results in a powerful recognition of female identity.

The evening opened with Movement in Fugue, choreographed by Amanda Browning, and the seven women clad in black set that serious tone with choreography perfectly suited to the Johann Sebastian Bach music that accompanied it. It was a flurry of motion with a notable degree of severity that forced a focus on the precision of the movement, which was estimable.

Featuring Erin Bready, Abi Elliot, Faryn Kelly, Elizabeth Matthews, Kara Price, Emma Raney, Jasmine Snellen

For Katie Kasari’s In Fits and Starts, three dancers, clad again in black, but now with a looser, filmy fabric, sustained the soberness of purpose. They entered the stage as a single unit, embraced and stepping in unison before they separated to execute a series of “herky-jerky” patterns that included a good many gestures of uplift, a call to action to rise above impediment and the dysfunction with which we define our age.

Featuring Tara Gardner, Kristen Knight, Jasmine Snellen.

the head and the heart was choreographed and danced by Meghan McKinley and Kylene Stephens, and essayed a journey from stark opposition to sudden, transformative human touch that made this piece startling in its intimacy. Not being an authority on dance, I was curious about the delicacy of the communication between the dancers and wondered how much of it comes from the close working relationship at work here – two dancer/choreographers creating a piece in a highly organic and intuitive fashion. Of course, I can only surmise, but the energy and excitement of the movement were provocative and was beautifully supported by Max Richter’s (as rearranged by Jorah the Andral) evocative music.

After intermission, there came a tantalizing preview of an evening-length piece Moving Collective will be premiering in February, Her Name Was Mary. In a segment called Mary Poppins | snippoP yraM, six women enter with colorful, buoyant skirts topped by black blazers, being “blown” around by wind, walking back and forth across the stage with deliberate but varied pace, and bringing a bracing gaiety to the stage that was in profound contrast to the trio of dances that preceded it. Humor is a defining characteristic of Theresa Bautista’s choreography – the playful but resonant Pillow Talk: function, dream, support and rest, still sticks in my memory from a Moving Collective concert a couple of years back, and the work here, a collaboration with Ms. Browning, promises much. It is narratively expansive, feeling both a piece of its own and a chapter drawn from a larger story.

Nicole Andres, Abi Elliot, Courtney Martin, Amber Marquez, Jasmine Snellen, Sheila Zeng.

Amber Marquez is among the six dancers in Mary, and she is a dominant presence in the second half of the evening. She choreographed the next piece, Breathe…Embrace, executed by three dancers in three movements. It incorporates hand signs between performers and a unique action in which one dancer in effect picks up another dancer and places their body in a new position, only to mirror their movements in the next instance. Once again, the concept of non-verbal communication is emphasized. Of course, this is a fundamental precept of dance, but the use of gesture brings a self-conscious awareness to the idea and pushes it the forefront of the audience’s perceptions.

In the final piece of the evening, Faryn Kelly’s Once I Dreamt, a dozen women fill the stage, and we are reminded once more that Moving Collective has always featured women with a range of physicality. There are a few who somewhat resemble the archetypal dancer’s physique, but there are also fuller, meatier bodies that establish a greater range of identity. Clad in casual attire, the performers reject the anonymity of the ballet corps to occupy roles of individual women that are distinctly different from one another, fiercely independent figures still capable of working in unison to forge a community. In the bold, super-charged athleticism of Kelly’s choreography, there is a strong, even confrontational statement delivered to the audience of female identity and empowerment in everyday existence. In Once I Dreamt, Moving Collective fully realizes all of its potential as a contemporary dance company capable of doing what art must: addressing this moment in society with all of its risks and contradictions.

Featuring Theresa Bautista, Holly Berry, Audra Brian, Taylor Brown, Nicole Hommrich, Faryn Kelly, Kristen Knight, Amber Marquez, Elizabeth Matthews, Emma Raney, Jasmine Snellen, Kylene Stephens.

Always Known, Never Met

November 4, 2017

Moving Collective
at Ursuline Art Center
3114 Lexington Road
Louisville, Kentucky 40206
Movingcollective.com

 

Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of PUBLIC on WXOX-FM 97.1/ ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.





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