Nov. 17, 2004
Daring and refreshing
artistic director of aha! dance theatre, has diligently achieved status
as one of the most consummate and innovative dance artists in the
community. aha! began in the early 90s as a collective of modern
dancers interested in exploring movement improvisation together. In
2002, Rieger became the sole artistic director of the company, having
set cutting-edge dances, enigmatic and expertly conceived. In January
of this year, Rieger received an award from the Kennedy Center for
achievement in choreography.
Act Two opened with Rieger's same dance done opposite Kambour's, which they called "Double Exposure." We viewed Rieger's dance twice, with different dances opposite hers each time. The choreographers announced their process beforehand. Each worked on his or her own in different cities. Balcos resides in Springfield, MO, Kambour, in Oklahoma. They came together and, with very little rehearsal, threw their dances together. Knowing this made watching for moments of spontaneous connection between the dances engaging. Both collaborations made for density but the choreographers bravely took a calculated risk.
Kambour also choreographed "Keeping Things Whole," a quintet to the music of Erich Kory. Poignant, fluid and athletic, the dance expressed spiritual feelings using lyrical floor patterns and passionate lifts.
Susan Warden, artistic director of the Lawrence company Prairie Wind Dancers, choreographed "2146 in a Series" in 1987. Rieger engaged Warden to set it on aha! Three women in pink teddies quoted passages of a Harlequin Romance and posed provocatively in between passages of darting, contrasting motion. The fresh idea for the piece fit in well with the vanguard tone of the entire concert.
Speaking in unison in a dance presents a dilemma, though. An actor speaking dialogue will hold and wait to continue while an audience laughs. "2146 in a Series" incited several laughs from the house, but since Warden choreographed the dancers to speak in rhythm, at times we missed words because of our chuckling.
Rieger, Balcos and aha! dancer Jennifer Otto collaborated
on the duet "Chiascuro," danced by Balcos and Otto.
Lighting Designer John "Moose" Kimball beautifully
draped the dancers in closely cut pools of light and shadow.
The dancers partnered each other using emphatically fluid movement
and close, undulating exchanges of weight. Moving this smoothly
over and around each other showed remarkable skill on the part
of the dancers, but "Chiascuro" maintained a monochromatic,
slow dynamic and a predictable structure: He lifted her, she
lifted him, repeat.
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