“Sketch 9: Perspective”
July 17-20, 2019
ODC Theater, SF
New Work by Amy Seiwert, Ben Needham-Wood and Stephanie Martinez
The Euphoria of Lifts
Amy Seiwert has bravely entered into her leadership in the “Sketch 9 Series” which “invites choreographers and dancers to question conventional parameters of ballet … participants discover new tools or truths about their work.” For this latest effort, Sketch presents her new work “Verses”, “Otra,Vez, Otra Vez, Otra Vez” by Stephanie Martinez, and “All I Ever Knew” by Ben Needham-Wood. The works are performed by the same ten brilliant dancers, a feat in itself. Each is intriguing in its own way. All are notable, for this viewer, by the number and variety of lifts, supports and uses of the floor, other dancers and some aspects of projections.
Seiwert’ piece was the most satisfying. With music from “The Chopin Project” by Olafur Arnolds and Alice Sara, the ten dancers in bright yellow costumes filled the ODC space with “modules” of movement. Although Seiwert’s notes suggest a narrative, I was pleased to respond to the modules as constructs with their own motifs, admiring each duet and how those fused into larger group patterns. Dancer Austin Meiteen and his partner Shania Rasmussen emerged as prominently skilled in dynamics and projection, although all the dancers are outstanding. Since the dance concentrates on partner lifts, these became the prominent choreographic vocabulary. These devices continued through the program.
Martinez’ work,”Otra,Vez, Otra Vez, Otra Vez”, was danced to a series of songs, presumedly love songs, and (as she suggests) loosely based on “The Old Guitarist” by Picasso. She refers in her notes to the idea of the ‘random passerby’. The dancers, in white, do exchange contact and partners and the lifts, this time more romanticized, continue to be the constant choreographic devise. Into this came a solo section for Austin Meiteen who’s work with a black hat, provides a comic and delightful interlude.
“All I Ever Knew” the work of Needham-Wood offers a story-line. Isaac Bates-Vinueza and Shania Rasmussen appear as ‘younger’ dancers. They play with the white boxes that form an upstage set. As ‘older, other’ dancers enter, they destroy the boxes’ order and are generally disinterested in others. A projection of ‘eyes watching’ is seen above. Ultimately the young dancers are reconciled to the set, the others and themselves. Again there is excellent dancing, an exciting range of movement…and those lifts!
Video artists, Olivia Ting, Ben Estabrook and Chris Correa added some dimension to the performance with projections and video images. The ODC stage is wide and deep and sometimes the lighting and the space conspire to weaken the effectiveness of video projection. I found that to be true for this event. Video projection is effective when it accompanies the dance and the space and does not distract from it.
Joanna G. Harris
Artists Austin Meiteen and Constanza Murphy in
Otra vez, Otra vez, Otra vez by Stephanie Martinez
Photo by Chris Hardy