Photo courtesy of Moving Collective.
Review by Keith Waits.
Entire contents copyright © 2015 by Keith Waits. All rights reserved.
Every Moving Collective performance I attend is an education in the potential of modern dance. I am no authority on the form, but I feel each presentation from this company offers a profound sense of discovery.
X is so labeled because it marks the 10th anniversary season, and it powerfully extends and expands the Moving Collective aesthetic. Although more frequent performances would be welcome, perhaps the limited number of shows enable the characteristic discipline and sharp focus that we have come to expect from Louisville’s foremost modern dance company.
The program was made up of seven strong pieces, two of which were particularly striking. The evening opened with Elizabeth Shea’s stunning Hunger Moon, an enigmatic piece that placed five dancers in front of a large video piece by Xiaoyuan Zhu that featured a brilliant, oversize moon. As the figures moved through the space threading rope through their hands and fingers, they would at times strike a heroic pose of classical proportions. As the near-silhouette was cast against the moving star field of Zhu’s video, and John Luther Adams’ atmospheric music weaves its spell, the audience was entirely mesmerized and the program was off to a powerful start.
Even better was Theresa Bautista’s Pillow Talk: function, dream, support, rest, a fresh piece of choreography that explores the rich level of meaning in the most benign and commonplace of objects. Dancers humorously emerge from within pillows stacked on one side of the stage, and then continue to execute movement of such wit and understated humanity as to blur the lines between traditional understanding of “dance” and a looser, more subtle expressive movement. The malleability of the pillow form informs how Bautista’s bodies move through space, and the readily identifiable relationship to the pillows with all of their associations to a range of human experience. Modern dance is so often such serious business, the embrace of humor made this piece arguably the most engaging dance of the evening.
Sabaku stood apart from the other work in that it was such an intensely serious solo piece created and performed by Leslie Dworkin. Initiated by a “wooshing” sound emerging from the darkness, as the lights come up we see Dworkin swinging a large tree branch in wide circles. The use of the prop seems an important indicator of the ritualistic nature of the theme, yet the piece is highly cerebral as well. Dworkin’s performance felt highly individual in the manner of a visual art performance piece.
Colleen Byrne’s Reflections on Time featured highly deliberate and measured pace that matched the metronomic pulse of the Angela Dubeau music, while danah bella’s Solo.Duet expressed a rural work ethic through spare and earthy movement and was the shortest piece of the evening.
Six women in translucent blue performed Surrender, choreographed by Grace Williams, which was the most evocative of traditional ballet, but this company’s aesthetic is always about a more fundamentally grounded approach to dance. Bodies move with grace and subtlety in Moving Collective work, but they also tumble, fall, and pantomime, and they often join together. In the final piece, Summer O Logan’s Down The Road Less Traveled, dancers carry one another as if pieces in a puzzle, or a knot becoming untied, exactly the type of freewheeling arrangement of the human body that characterizes this company.
October 25, 2015
at Ursuline Art Center
3114 Lexington Road
Louisville, Kentucky 40206
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being one of the hosts of PUBLIC on ARTxFM, 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.