West Wave’s Solo Night, August 15, ODC Theatre

23 Aug

Thank Joan Lazarus for selecting the solos – eight of them, not all danced by their creators. Thank Joan Lazarus also for selecting recognizable modern dance technique with many of the strengths of classical ballet.

ODC’s Theatre attracted quite a crowd for a Monday night – friends, colleagues, students to see eight essentially solo pieces, starting with Suzanne Beahrs “Dear Unica” with Molly Stinchfield’s drawings projected as she outlined the body of Julianna Monin and added embellishments to the she either spoke or had previously recorded.  Beahrs had previously attended U.C. Berkeley, which must account for her inclusion while Angela Don’s music was created along with her sound engineering responsibilities with Berkeley Repertory Theater.

Whoever Unica is , she enjoyed a detailed portrait of her strengths and abilities to be greater than the lines projected, the movements made and the sound and words employed. Overall, dancer Juliana Monin lacked the opportunity to dance with any freedom from the enveloping of crossing linear commentary.  An admirable collaboration, it left me questioning the point.

Maria Basile’s “Birthing The Ascension” with music by Thoth followed.  A nude hued costume displayed Basile’s  strong womanly  body and an unwavering technique where arm ended with a poised hand with fingers completing, extending the line or curve of her movement. A sense of the inevitable within the evanescence of dance was rarely more clearly stated.  Basile’s small body reminded one many great dancers have been far from Balanchine’s ideal,  endowed with elegant  curves and a sensuality alive and well in its disciplined expressive vehicle.

Sue Li-Jue continues to plumb aspects of her Asian heritage.  I remember seeing her explore the foot fetish of Chinese bound feet in a performance at The Asian Art Museum.  In “Not What She Seems”, Li Jue chose company member Frances Sedayao to explore alternating nonchalence, frustration and rebellion in an Asian woman’s working life, the score punctuated by the sounds of whirring sewing machines. Sedayao with her tiny physique embodied the contradictions ably.

Stacey Printz collaborated with tall  musician/performer Tommy Shepherd and a raised oblong platform for “If You Knew.” Her body sculpted in a black unitard, Printz explored the corners and edges of the board, at times raising and stretching her arms, the torso reaching across the rim of the board.  This went on a long time when it was obvious Printz would heist herself on to the black plank to continue her strong, impressive movement.  When she finally obliged us, completion seemed relatively fast.  Sans question, Printz’ work  was impressive, though what was conveyed besides prodigious control is a question.

After the intermission Erin Derstine danced “With” to a Yo-yo Ma recording of Bach’s Cello Suite #2, her back to the audience.  Whether on the floor or standing, Derstine’s  technique was laced with a sweet tenderness, which became obvious when Ben Estabrook’s film displayed the abdomen of a woman close to delivery.  After a section displaying the gentle pulse of the foetus, Derstine faced the audience, clearly in post-partum trim condition.  A few gestures of cradling appeared before she finished, making clear the linkage between Bach’s sonorous complexity and the gestation of new life.

Maurya Kerr came to Alonso King’s Lines’ Ballet following sojourns with Fort Worth and Pacific Northwest Ballets, a formed artist giving a dozen years to King’s choreography.  Now teaching in the Lines/Dominican BFA program and in Lines Ballet Training Program, she has guested locally and with Hollins University.  As a free lance choreographer, she set “Billy Tate” on Adam Peterson who responded admirably to her creation of a young man who begins
and ends like a medically identified spastic, in between demonstrating abundant control and technical vocabulary

Angela Mazziotta’s “The Last Ten” and Jazon Escultura’s “Chalk on the Sitewalk” completed the program.  Youthfulness was reflected choreographically in their somewhat diffident invention, though each possesses the requisite technique to  create appealing figures in performance.  Both are beginning seekers, earnest,  honest; a senior, I found it hard to respond to the messages they attempted.  However, they are on the path.

David H. K. Elliott gave each choreographer complementing  lighting.

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