Tag Archives: Carolina Czechowska

Majesty as viewed by Garrett Moulton Productions

28 Oct

Luminous Edge is the latest collaboration of Janice Garrett and Charles Moulton; it was premiered September 18-21, 2014 at Lam Research Theater in the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Complex on Mission Street at Third Street, San Francisco. It should be repeated for serious souls everywhere.

It’s not very often I find myself thinking or uttering the word “Majestic,” but that was my take on the performance shared with Rita Felciano as we left the seventy some minute work. It included songs by Gustav Mahler sung in lushly loving tones by contralto Karen Clark standing upstage left beside seven other musicians.

Why majestic? That implies something special, transcendent. What was it about this clearly contemporary work penetrating that difficult hierarchy of values? Part of the impression rose from the formations – Two lines comprising twenty dancers faced each other from back to front stage center at the beginning; even from orchestra left, the formality registered, reinforced when the three principal couples moved from stage back forward and later danced together with collective movements interspersed.

Moulton, noted for his choir of dancers, stair-stepped, and manipulating objects in fascinating and progressively complicated patterns, here assigned more interaction with the principal dancers. The choir had their moments, then a black out, and a pas de deux, but there were places, as the work intensified, where the principals reached out to them, or a member of dancing choir stepped out of the formation and inter-acted. The feeling of the individual and the collective relating became strong, as well as tender and evocative. The interspered Mahler songs in the haunting tones of Karen Clark’s contralto, not always clear in the sound system, intensified the impression of witnessing something almost baroque in contemporary life.

My impression, a plain if awesome reaction, was like seeing the Golden Eye of God in the Protestant Church in East Berlin just before the 1990 German reunification. This symbol was carefully protected from the pulverizing Allied bombings during the final days of the European conflict in World War II, an emblem of faith, a surviving icon in the face of horrendous outer chastisement.

With the couples vanishing between the lines of the movement choir at the end, the work visually summarized the lines “The captains and the kings depart; still stands thy ancient sacrifice, a humble and a contrite heart.” You have to admit that’s strong stuff.

The principal dancers were Vivian Aragon, Carolina Czechowska, Dudley Flores, Michael Galloway, Tegan Schwabe, Nol Simonse.

Angles of Enchantment, ODC Theatre December 2

13 Dec

Janice  Garrett- Charles Moulton Productions gave Angles of Enchantment its last performance December 2 at 7:30 p.m. at ODC’’s Theatre; I am grateful I made it.  What they produce exhibits an airiness of vision, a certain indefinable approach exciting and soothing at the same time.  Leaving one grateful to have witnessed a performance is no mean achievement;  this pair accomplishes  it  for one’s digestion, if you allow the  mixed  metaphor.

Angles of Enchantment utilized four dancers possessing varied  heights and skeletal frames; tiny Tanya Bello, regal  Carolina Czechowska, lean Tegan Schwab and lyrical Nol Simonse; one musician/composer Peter Whitehead, Margaret Hatcher for costume design, aided by Julienne Weston with Audrey Wright’s lighting design.  Indicative of the esteem with which the couple is regarded, three foundations and two civic-based organizations helped contribute to  production costs for this departure to the choreographers’ usual roster of performers, easily quadruple the four seen in this work..

Whitehead both sang and rendered his composition with recording, also playing a variety of instruments; said objects were grabbed by a dancer at one point, creating a little whimsy plus minor battle;  dancer would grasp instrument and be relieved of same.  Each dancer appeared in solo format and then joined in a pas de trois, pas de deux or, finally, in pas de quatre .
Spotlights shone during solos, while the lines of the dancers created shifting shapes, sometimes fleeting, sometimes sculptural; in one instance reluctant cuddly bench partners toyed with should I-shouldn’t I advances and retreats, the forms of embraces unusual for conventional come ons.

The narration and connections are largely audience-supplied, particularly when the dancers donned white costumes with de Cuevas-like headdresses and the women tutus a Nutcracker Snow Queen could envy: feathery topped skirts, pouffy underpinning, adroit blinking lights.

Fully half my enjoyment came from the sizes and shapes of the dancers as they interacted.  Carolina Czechowska reminds me of  Martine Van Hamel’s presence, an impression fortified by the strongest pointe ever seen on a modern dancer; Tegan Schwab displays an athletic-faceted silhouette, echoing my impression of the late Lois Bewley, and Simonse, he’s in his own special niche while Tanya Bello makes me understandt the acclaim of certain late 19th century Russian ballerinas.  This, of course, had little to do with what was seen, but everything to do with a roving mind in the audience.  I appreciate the chance to have such triggers.  Art is supposed to stimulate and certainly Angles of Enchantment did just that.