Edinburgh Fringe 2013
This dance showcase were from varied backgrounds from the United States and made up of 6 pieces, which included a piece entitled ‘Black and Blue’ choreographed by Kate Rafter and performed by Kate Rafter and Dustin Ordway.
The other pieces were stand alone with different dancers and seemingly unrelated to each other – or if there was a narrative or connection this wasn’t overt. Refreshingly the dancers had individual body types, not all traditional dancer physiques, and teenage girls and women would do well to be inspired by the confidence and grace of these women.
Black and Blue was a thought provoking and powerful performance. If this was the only piece being reviewed, it would have been awarded ‘Highly Recommended’. The two performers explored, through modern dance approaches, a non-verbal dialogue about connection, aggression and resolution. Music together with strong movements and quietly expressive facial expressions made this a moving and dynamic piece of work. The acts of reaching out to each other to connect doesn’t always go the way we plan…like a toddler wanting attention…wanting love….we can reach out hungrily and clumsily…hurting the other that we so long to feel at one with….longing for harmony causes a discord of its own if the movements are too forced, too rushed. Like the Buddhist reminders of trying to hold too tightly onto another, like the act of scooping up water and trying to keep every last bit we sometimes grab too much and everything escapes out through our fingers. I was reminded of young teenagers longing to learn the ways of love…but only knowing how to pull pigtails or tease or ignore the object of their happiness.
The first move…was it aggressive?… was interpreted as an attack and so aggressively countered, which brought back violence until the hits and kicks and pushes and shoves kept tumbling back to each other in an impossible continuing cycle…violence begetting violence begetting violence….the performers expressed this through heavy thudded movements and downcast eyes, slightly unfocused and unseeing….escalating and becoming harder and more determined….then suddenly a moment…a light….a glint of consciousness…an awakening….holding the same hand previously fought off so bitterly….now held so gently and tenderly…with trust and openness…and then slowly and gently back through the movements….each one now translated into touches of love and open eyed curiosity…holding each other with tenderness and freedom….
This was beautiful, expressive and original. With more development could become outstanding. I wondered what it might be like using live music or even no music at all to explore what comes out of that. I also wondered if there might be more of the tender loving movements – i.e. an equal amount of time spent on this as with the violent movements. I also wondered about the act of indifference or ignoring as forms of violence and how this might be explored. It would be interesting to see this piece developed and brought back as a standalone performance.
The solo piece was entitled ‘Silenced’ and was performed by Melinda Caubarreaux. It was a heart-felt and energetic piece of work and it again explored a non-conformist approach to dance. But the promising beginning fizzled out somewhat and the moves became fairly repetitive. The music felt a wrong for the performer, who would have perhaps explored more personal emotion with a less generic song.
The remaining pieces were performed by Candace Thomas, Kimberley Turner, Stephanie Sermas, Jaimee Vilela and Jacqeline Coleman. The dancers were graceful and at times beautifully fluid and expressive but not always as one being, the synergy of the movements wasn’t always apparent and often it felt as if many individuals on stage dancing their own dance rather than developing a unified flow. The different pieces had different moods and music but this wasn’t always striking enough to maintain interest. They seemed to flow in and out of classical and modern dance, ballet and contemporary. My favourite piece, I’m sorry I don’t remember the name, was the one where they were all dressed in white. It was much more earthy and guttural and it felt as if the dancers engaged with it more, which made the performance feel more exciting. The costumes were all mainly traditionally feminine but effective visually, the lighting was satisfactory and the music cues a little misjudged at times. The space was well used by the dancers and they worked incredibly hard showing obvious talent and dedication. It would have been useful to have more detail on the programme, or at the beginning of the show, explaining the dance premise – background and context – for those not fluent in the field of dance.
A good show to watch if you’re looking for a change and want to explore more physical expression rather than dialogue.