Light and Shadow

World Dance Alliance Global Dance Event
Dance Theater Workshop – Bessie Schönberg Theater

Tuesday July 13, 2010 – Concert A

Review by Stephanie Burridge (© 2010)

Photo Credit: “Anarchy’s Dream” (2009) choreographed by Chieh-hus Hsieh (Taiwan)

A semi naked dancer rooted to the floor reached out from the prison of a large skirt; another woman carrying two pieces of driftwood walked by a projected river of refracted light; a man looked back on his life in dance with images of his childhood and his country projected behind him. These short, poetic statements in Concert A of the World Dance Alliance Global Event at Dance Theatre Workshop – ‘In Time Together’ were a stark contrast to the drama of more sinister offerings later in the concert.

Kate Corby’s Yoke was beautiful in its simplicity as the dancer swung between hope and despair expressed through arm and torso movements that opened and retracted from a fixed point. Occasionally she seemed to be floating in a meditative state evoking a woman bound to her fate. Fate also underpinned States of Gravity & Light #2 – this time the inevitable force of nature predominated.  At first, the dancer and the projected river moved quietly together, later dancer/choreographer Merián Soto’s silhouette dominated the stage as she appeared to walk on the water; but as the piece progressed, the river charged on and the she span and rushed to keep pace. The harmony between the projection and Soto created a satisfying balance of movement and light.

Parivahitam: Perspectives in Motion choreographed by Sudarshan Chakravorty was an Indian contemporary work that fused Bharatanatyam and western contemporary vocabulary. The choreography used these tools effectively to portray the fluctuating social position and perceptions of Indian women as they move between the East and the West.  To begin, Bharatanatyam hand movements were added to the whole body expression of western dance but as the work evolved and relationships between female and male dancers developed the vocabulary reverted to a more traditional form where the women were ‘fixed’ in poses for the men to manipulate and restrict them. Sometimes they screamed to voice their frustrations. However the company tried to do too much in one short piece as what began as a strong, coherent statement with inventive movement became an over-worked, drama-based narrative.  The final scene where the dancers appeared in Western clothes carrying suitcases summed up the themes about perceptions of people moving between two cultures but was ultimately a clichéd finale that lacked the imagination of the earlier scenes.

Bala Sarasvati’s choreography Coeur de CORE stepped up the pace with a high voltage, street wise work. Their costumes, interesting hair details and animistic movements made them appear like hybrid forms as they crept out of the wings at the beginning. The dancers did some spectacular barrel roles and leaps early on in this well constructed piece but their energy flagged towards the end. To follow, Joseph Fontano’s Adesso NYC work made use of a projection to reflect on his dance journey as well as his love for Italy. In the foreground on stage, Fontano moved ponderously on a large white canvas that eventually consumed him – it was ultimately a pedantic, indulgent homage.

The last work on the program was of staggering intensity, risk-taking, daring and sometimes danger as the three Taiwanese dancers hurled each other around in an increasingly violent cat-fight.  Anarchy’s Dream was like a girls’ night out turned nasty through one-upmanship, bitchy sizing up of the opposition as they strutted in their high heels and chic clothes. The anarchy began with the three circling their hips at the audience as though they were sexually preparing to launch themselves for a night on the town – this sexuality spiraled out of control as they competed and fought with each other often pinning each other in wrestling holds, and then they moved into the audience where they flayed and scrapped. Although it went on too long pushing the same point, this disturbing work with contemporary feminist overtones brought out great performances by all the dancers and held the audience spell bound.

It was an absorbing evening of dance that progressed through the light and shadow of emotions.