West Wave Dance 2011 – ODC Theater, September 12, 2011

17 Sep

To an SRO in ODC’s new Theater the September 12 offering of West Wave Dance’s twentieth season possessed eight duets, two coming from San Diego, somebodied dance theater and Jean Isaacs, with Los Angeles represented by Rande Dorn;  Amy Seiwert and Nikki and Ethan White upheld the expressive side of classical ballet.  Dana Lawton and Mary Carbonara presented the case for modern dance while Pearl Marill reminded us that dialogue with dance can be genuinely funny.  The eight pieces made for an absorbing evening.


Dana Lawton’s piece, an excerpt from “Inside,”  featured Jennifer Smith and Michael Armstrong, .  Smith, long of line and gifted with a profile like a Roman cameo, was a contrast to Armstrong, tidy, muscular form, so that the meeting and antagonisms appeared as rooted in the impulses each body produced as the rocky emotions of male-female relationships. There were movements of delicate hand gestures, sweeping the hand across the face in disgust, stroking the arms in narcissistic reinforcement, as well as lifts, ballroom-dance phrases and body stances.


Randy Dorn titled her piece “While the Babies are Sleeping”, setting the choreography first to a music-box tiny tune, making the garments and objects possessed by Monica Pack and Maggie Jones disconcerting.  Both dancers were tall, skilled and covered stage space easily.


Dorn’s choreography veered between stark moments of eye contact, sweeping leg movements of  protest, and in rare moments actions which belonged in spoken theater unsuited and stilted as dance  development.  A chair upstage left was utilized only towards the end as an object useful for dumping the detritus-like clothing miscellany and a brief seating by one of the dancers.


Whether these were two women with babies, raging about their married life was not apparent;  one seemed to be seeking and demanding connection, emotional response, the other avoiding it. The exposition required a goodly number of grand ronde de jambes, darting diagonals and rushes around the stage to music apparently impossible to edit.


From this frustration, the program continued with an excerpt from “Trust to Fall” a 2011 work by Amy Seiwert, employing the talents of Andrea Basile, a former ODC dancer, and Brendan Barthel, whose wide performing experience includes martial and healing arts components. The pair rose and fell to Bjork’s rendition of “Unravel”, Basile supported in lifts with her legs in a grand second position plie, feet firmly in said position in the air.  This lift occurred both in front and on Barthel’s back, also to the side, the emotion registering like curled toes in a baby’s utter satisfaction.  The dancers and piece elicited a similar sensation from the audience.


Just before intermission Gina Bolles and Kyle Sorensen, the San Diego couple dancing as somebodied dance theater, performed “Field,”  registering to me as Parvati trying to make contact with Shiva in a self- absorbed mood.  Downstage left Gina Bolles moved arms, swung  legs, pivoted and turned in her off green shirt and capri- length trousers. Kyle moved  like the early stages of Nijinsky’s  Faun, arms semi-folded over the chest, hands drooping, listening and aware, gazing largely inward.


Gina Bolles executed wide swooping movements across, up and around Kyle, circling, trying to attract his attention.  Kyle made some delicate finger gestures, like feelers into an environment needing testing, minuscule in contrast to the sweep of Gina Bolles dancing.


Some body contact occurred, yes; a tad of physical support, but ending inconclusively; Intermission provided definite relief.

Nikki and Ethan White used a body-encasing ball with their pas de deux, initially housing Ethan White; Nikki pushed, shoved and pricked so  Ethan could be ejected.  They garnered chuckles and admiration for their  lifts, and intricate feats of balance,  partnering to a mix of Mozart, Arvo Part, Bjork and Gavin Bryars.


What a pity Jean Isaacs and her dancers Blythe Barton and Trystan Loucado are not based in San Francisco! The excerpt from “When Strangers Meet” to Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble formed  a wonderfully subtle, evocative, skillful pas de deux.  Barton, blonde and willowy, and Loucado, sinewy and lithe, partnered each other like second skins. Loucado’s background, including Cirque de Soleil, brought a special tension which that theatrical and acrobatic enterprise demands of its performers.


“Missed Connections,” with Meatloaf as music presented Pearl Marill and Cason McBride with the right mixture of sound for Marill’s dialogue;  her choreography was liberally laced with comic acuity.  She, a tiny, packed energy was a wild mop of curly hair; he was tallish, lean, wide, blue-eyed,  just “au shucks” dude.


Did they meet first on the street or through Craig’s List?   Anyhow, they passed on Valencia, looking good, attracted, but wary.  Aided by Marill’s dialogue, a theatrical expertise with Traveling Jewish Theatre credits, laughter and guffaws almost sunk the music.  She circled,  he nearly  static.  Finally, collison, sparked and entwined them in awkward, intricate embrace.  The coupling subsided; they stood, subdued, stared, and ran in opposite directions.  Marill may some day be set next to Jerome Robbins as comic choreographer.


The evening concluded with Kerry Demme and Laura Sharp, in identical red dresses  passable as street wear, dancing to the music of John Adams and Philip Glass in Mary Carbonara’s  “The Morphology of Rain.”

The beautifully muscled women, tidy bodied, moving in extensions, contractions, pivots, swinging arcs, dancing solo sequentially, sharing the stage briefly, were a joy.  Morphology’s relation to rain was uncertain, but their weighted fluidity and ability to move to specialized music made a gratifying finale.


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