Tuesday November 29, 2012 - For the past year, choreographer Andrea Gise (above) has been creating a series of dance solos at a rate of one per month. Tonight at the Red Bean Studios, she unveiled the results of this project. In addition to new choreography, each solo was performed to new music.
Scanning the list of participating dancers and composers I was surprised to see only two familiar names: Christina Ilisije (of Parsons Dance) and composer/performer Marlon Cherry, so there were lots of new movers and music makers to meet. Waiting for the performance to begin, the atmosphere was casual: dancers warmed up or mingled with the composers and audience members, removing the boundary between performer and viewer. A couple of the dancers ran thru their solos. Then everyone settled down to watch.
Two of the solos were presented on film, the rest performed live. The dancers wore simple practice clothes and the lighting was uncomplicated; all focus was on the dance and the music. Certain movement elements ran threadlike thru the various solos; the dancers utilized the space in varying capacities from work to work. One solo flowed into the next as each dancer stepped into the space. This was dance in its most immediate and pure form.
The variety of music was impressive; Andrea spoke later of having made a lot of the choreography without reference to the completed scores. That surprised me since so much of the evening seemed like a happy marriage of movement and sound.
It's maybe a bit unfair to single out individual performances since everyone participating - both dancers and composers - made fine individual impressions. But I don't think anyone would begrudge mention of Pat Catterson's performance of fight v. flight, the longest of the solos. Pat was the only dancer "over 30" among the cast and her solo was both physically demanding and emotionally varied.
In Christina Ilisije's solo bad cog, the dancer showed her trademark fluency of movement to a percussive/industrial score (with electrc guitar coming in later) by Philip Knowlton. Marlon Cherry's opening piano theme evolved into moody, jazzy music while the lovely Remi Harris made her moves dovetail to the rhythmic patterns: this was image control. Two solos for men found Andrea Gise's choreography at its most inventive: a sleep-study called non-disclosure act danced by Joshua Tuason, and a brilliant theatrical vignette entitled slick, performed by Felix Hess. From among the colorful palette of music we were hearing, Kristen Kairos' work for two flutes was especially evocative as danced by Jennifer Eisenberg in quell.
The other dancers on the programme were Joanie Johnson and Joey Kipp (both on film), Ryan McNally (who opened the live show with a strong performance), and three distinctively beautiful women: Morgelyn Tarbeth-Ward, Ali Skye Bennett and Zoe Blake.
In a Q & A at the end of the presentation, Andrea spoke of first being influenced by her reactions to the Gulf oil spill when undertaking this project: not just the spill itself but the resulting media coverage and efforts by government agencies to downplay the situation. We who had watched the dancing mentally began to filter back thru the evening to make connections between the dance and the theme. The seemingly abstract danceworks then took on other layers of meaning. She was wise, though, not to reveal too much until we'd seen the performance, thus allowing everyone to find their own reference points among the movement and the music.