Ballet RI’s Black Box Theater, Providence RI.
August 27, 2023.
Twenty to 22 % of dance works one usually sees onstage are choreographed by a lady, famous Eugenia Zinovieva, co-director of Rhode Island Women’s Choreography Project (RIWCP), whereas addressing the viewers for this group’s 5th Anniversary Concert (alongside together with her fellow Co-Director Kristy DuBois). Doing one thing about that setting is the purpose of what they do, she defined, “to [help] level the playing field.”
This program’s works have been all from female-identifying artists, and that gave the impression to be the one actual curatorial guideline; this system supplied a feast of numerous ideas, choreographic approaches and aesthetics. That was the results of six artists bringing a singular voice to the desk – by advantage of being of a lady, a voice with all-too excessive an opportunity of going unheard. In this program, nonetheless, every of these voices was very a lot heard. Each choreographer even had an opportunity to make use of their literal voice, by introducing their very own work to the viewers, as is that this group’s norm.
Jessi Stegall’s Gotholympians kicked off this system. “A satirical dance-theatre piece that explores the quirks and risks of competitive & performative suffering,” it’s a daring and bracing work that takes true dangers – each bodily and emotional. It illustrated the connective tissue between dance and gymnastics: an intriguing idea I don’t suppose I’ve ever seen explored.
Wearing leotards reminscient of gymnasts’ – shiny, lengthy sleeved, and with out tights – the dancers executed Stegall’s motion with the tenacity of essentially the most “hard-core”, elite-level aesthetic athletes. They danced with the exactitude of navigating uneven bars and stability beams. I might really feel the tunnel-vision dedication and the strain of striving.
Those issues can include perfectionism, and I might really feel that as effectively. It’s not with out psychological and emotional penalties. Later on within the work, the dancers gasped for air – essentially the most fundamental sustenance. Easeful respiration is contentment. Short, uneven respiration is anxiousness and concern.
The ending drove all of it house in an unforgettable approach. With two dancers face down, one dancer with a medal round her neck stood tall. The rating pronounced “when it comes to messy, no one competes with me.” She then fell, too. If our wellbeing is what it prices, even in “winning” we now have misplaced one thing – one thing massive.
Then got here Jay Breen’s Whatever That Means, a piece cogently exploring particular person and shared experiences of affection, delivered by considerate and poignant motion vocabulary. This work supplied sluggish, inside motion in a really satisfying approach. I used to be reminded simply what number of extra instruments there are in choreography past the quick and livid, the athletic and spectacular.
Right earlier than intermission got here Theresa Jimmerson’s Fallait Demander (“you should’ve asked”). “Named after Emma’s famous feminist comic,” this system explains, the work is about “the mental load of motherhood…the work of managing a household…crucial, yet invisible.” The first eight counts of the work snapped me proper to 150 % consideration, with dancers using on the shoulders of a accomplice dropping proper to the stage with a loud, collective thud. I believed right here a few depth of exhaustion that phrases can’t totally seize. An early solo within the work, illuminated in highlight (lighting design by Devin Mooney), captured the agitation and depth that may accompany such exhaustion.
From there, the work moved ahead with a gradual pulse; a mom’s work by no means ends, because the saying goes. Embodying the calls for on moms – the sorting, planning, anticipating, and remembering that this system named – Jimmerson stored the stage full and totally alive as that regular pulse beat on. It all stayed visually organized and digestible, nonetheless. Any mom can describe that feeling of organized chaos, one way or the other persevering with to make it work towards all odds.
A softer duet pointed to the reduction and launch that social help can convey. The exhaustion (signified in rolling throughout the stage and deep heaving) wasn’t far behind, nonetheless. The ending introduced it again to particular person expertise – as soon as once more, a dancer alone in highlight. They say one has to expertise the burden of motherhood – in addition to its transcendence – to actually perceive it.
Right after that was Haley Andrews’ Are You a Friend of Dorothy?, a bit shedding gentle on the fantastic thing about queer love. Easeful use of momentum and breath felt as candy and pure as love at its greatest can really feel. A clean layer of physique percussion on high of the musical rating (“Bang Bang” by Nancy Sinatra and “Anthem for No State P1” by Godspeed You!, with different songs used later within the work), felt simply as natural.
Coming after that was Juliana Godlewski’s Wings Untangled, a dynamic and thought-provoking solo danced by Katherine Bickford. In her introduction to the work, Godlewski recounted how the work blossomed from outdated journal entries, and particularly how she was persevering with to seek out her creative identification. She reminded us that “the end of a chapter is the beginning of another.” This work being a solo struck me as fairly apropos; the method of discovering one’s creative voice is a solitary one, and sometimes fairly lonely.
Bickford’s dedication to the work – her each cell absorbed in Godlewski’s motion vocabulary – underscored the pure elbow grease and grit which are intrinsic to that very same course of. Her breath was deep, rhythmic, and audible. That’s one thing that I really like listening to, as there’s arguably no clearer signal of simply how a lot dancers bodily give in efficiency.
Also evident within the work was each choreographer’s and performer’s eager kinetic command; Bickford moved by each staccato accents and clean circularity with the continuity of ripples by water. To finish the work, she appeared off right into a brightly lit downstage proper. It would all proceed, certainly, one chapter main into one other.
Deanna Gerde’s Hydrae, “centered around the dynamic of power, vulnerability, and independence relative to the female experience,” closed this system. As the lights got here up, one dancer rose to her ft, slowly and soulfully (sure, I wouldn’t suppose that’d be doable from such a easy motion, however this artist managed it). As one other dancer joined her, they joined foreheads and moved with that as some extent of contact.
Here I contemplated, momentarily, on the unparalleled connection that may bloom between one girl and one other. The purple of their costumes (by Eileen Stoops) shone as brightly as the fireplace within the hearts of girls who discover such affinities. Gestures of reaching out, however then drawing again into the self, highlighted the vulnerability and independence which Gerde referenced in her program word.
A soloist with a circle of dancers round her spoke to these occasions when eyes deal with one particular person in a gaggle – both in care or in (as sadly occurs) concentrating on. Weight sharing, and a concurrent lifted sense to the physique, made tangible a way of help from one other – and the way a lot such help can finally imply.
As the lights fell, dancers outstretched a hand in the direction of the viewers and exhaled collectively in a single bated breath. That one second appeared to comprise extra layers the extra one peeled again: unity, providing, groundedness and standing agency within the self, as only a few.
All of the works on this program introduced a equally contemporary and riveting which means, realized with orginality and intentionality. That’s what can occur once we can increase the pool of voices from which we hear. Meaning expands. Art exands. We increase. I’m all eyes and ears for the way RIWCP will proceed to assist open these gates and push these boundaries.
By Kathryn Boland of Dance Informa.