March 23-April 2, 2017
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, SF
Walking the walk: Doing the Dance
Some famous choreographer (perhaps Doris Humphrey) said, “All dances are too long.” Some are; some are not. For this ODC program “Women on the Move,” the two works presented were too long. They were both interesting, involving group and solo work that was challenging to the dancers and the audience. But, there were too many ideas, too many breathtaking phrases, and even too many costume ideas for an opening night audience to absorb. Yet the works presented were both important. Perhaps they should not be on the same program, but each paired with alternative, shorter, simpler presentations.
Kate Weare’s “Giant” (2016) was the first program number. She says, “Giant is me playing out loud with perceptions of heroism, potency and valor. Dancers are heroic, sweating, falling, failing, exposing raw spots, trying again and again allowing themselves to be seen in an act of creative effort; it takes tremendous courage.”
To illustrate and demonstrate Weare’s intense concerns, dancers Jeremy Smith, Josie G. Sadan, Jeremy Bannon-Neches, Brandon Freeman, Natasha Adorleee Johnson,Tegan Schwab, Alec Guthrie, Daniel Santos, Kegon Saghari, Rachel Furst, Lani Yamanaka and Mia J.Chong weave together a series of duets, solos and group events that test the dancers’ strength, adaptability to lifts and balances, falls and supports that require endless stamina. A quartet featuring newcomer Alec Guthrie reveals that dancer’s lyric quality. “Giant” is a complex, fascinating work. It deserves to be seen again and again to become aware of the many challenges it presents.
KT Nelson challenges the same dancers with a more dramatic scenario. Inspired by her walk on Camino de Santiago, she became interested in individuality, collectivity and historical perspective. For “Blink of an Eye” (World Premiere), she focuses on an individual dancer, Jeremy Smith, and the group’s response to him. He is adored, adorned and often humiliated. Costume pieces and props serve as decoration and décor, recalling dance past. Nelson uses both contemporary sound and quotes from Handel and Bellini to echo history as the dancers wheel in line formation to display and exchange their costume pieces. It is intriguing, fascinating and endless.
These works will be repeated during the ODC Dance/Downtown Season which will include two works by Artistic Director Brenda Way. Those are “Walk Back the Cat” (2016) and a World Premiere “What we carry What we Keep.” ODC is certainly on a roll presenting new works and commissioning fine choreographers.
Photo: Andrew Weeks, Andrew Weeks Photography
Steffi Cheong and Jeremy Smith perform in the world premiere of Giant by Kate Weare,
Joanna G Harris, PhD
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