Counterpulse Schedules Diversity September 9-11

10 Oct

Counterpulse with its modest quarters near the corner of Ninth on Mission
is an outgrowth of a free-wheeling improvisational location on Divisadero Street
which outgrew it second story location and its limited range of performance offerings.  On Mission Street it has fostered diversity with a fierce capital D,
multi-ethnic, multi-gender, multi-dance form.While the personalities responsible for 848 Divisadero still perform in the converted storefront theatre,  Jessica Robinson Love can be credited with much of the current range in the programming.  She has been the artistic director of Counterpulse since 2006.

 

So it’s scarcely surprising that it should offer a shared program featuring Charles Slender’s Pretonically Oriented V.3 and Lenora Lee’s Reflections.  Both groups have enjoyed a residency period at Counterpulse, enabling them to produce the pieces seen  September 9-11.

Pretonically Oriented V.3 and Reflections, translated, means cerebral exposition on Caucasian bodies and Chinese martial arts blended with modern dance aided by traditional Chinese lion masks.

I had to query Rita Felciano for a definition of “pretonically” since  my routine
dictionaries gave me no clue. Her response was that it refers to that part of a word just before the emphasized syllable.  Now, that’s truly cerebral.  For me  that was the problem.  I watched, I admired the three principal performers and observed their intricate movement and body patterns.  But felt nothing, NADA.

doubtless I am  antedelluvian, but that is what theater and art is about – to evoke, and, perhaps, in the process make one a better human being.

Erin Kraemer and Catherine Newman are well-trained, nicely-moving modern
dancers called upon to contort their faces and their bodies both in solo and partnering sequences.  It must be an interesting contrast to working with the San Francisco Opera, listed in both dancers’ credits.

James Graham is a beautifully muscled, nicely proportioned man with substantial academic and performing credits.  This month he departs for Israel to be come a certified Gaga instructor.  I hope he gets  to dance there.

Among credits listed for choreographer Charles Slender is a two-year stint in Yekaterinburg, Russia.  Isn’t this location the site of the Romanov family murders? I wonder what and if the location influenced Slender’s subject matter.

Following intermission Lenora Lee Dance’s Reflections commenced with
the prominent placement of Chinese Lion masks, and a video of a Chinese
reflecting on his background and familial influences.  Lee was aided in her
exploration by the Kei Lun Martial Arts, and Enshin Karate from the South
San Francisco Dojo as she explored traditional North Asian themes in
the context of Western society.  The latter came into play only as the Asian
individual found himself in a struggle between traditional and individual
expression.

Lenora Lee and Dr. Raymond Fong engaged in a moving duet, characterized by destructive impulse and the staying, comforting, reassuring restraints of the feminine.  There also were episodes of high level testosterone conflict, swiftly and expertly depicted by the members of the two martial arts group.  The masks came into play at various times, including some skeletal forms which someday may see full trappings.

I responded to Reflections, not just because it was visually engaging and
familiar, but because it dealt with emotion in some form.  A Volte Face from its predecessor on the program, both choreographers  need to work on transitions in their pieces. Dance happens there as much as in actual movement.

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