February 13 , 2009
A Night to remember
by David Ollington
Next year, City in Motion Dance Theater will celebrate its 25th season. For a quarter of a century, this open-arm, active and caring institution has served the local Modern Dance community with grace. CIMDT provides quality dance training with The City in Motion School of Dance. A professional ensemble titled The City in Motion Dance Company regularly performs throughout the area. And the CIMDT New Dance Series gives local choreographers opportunity to show their work. On Feb. 6, the New Dance Series produced the sixth annual Modern Night at the Folly.
This year’s Modern Night included edgy, risky work, innovation and beautiful dancing. City in Motion invited select local choreographers to present work in this concert. Every piece stepped out on a limb with contemporary vanguard. We are bombarded daily with news of a worsening economy — perhaps these artists show that desperate times call for divergently creative choices. The uncertainty of our stability inspired bold, artistic statement, cutting the edges of innovation.
The choreographers offered us a generous helping of asymmetry on the stage. The dancers often moved with torsos tilted, arched, or upside down. Props were handled in bizarre fashions. And lighting designer John “Moose” Kimball illuminated the dances using shape and color in a manner both equaling and enhancing the originality of the choreography.
Patrick Suzeau, in the solo he created on himself “Baltic Sketch 2007,” arced across the Folly stage with both expressive and spatial range. Close emotional gestures built into grander, full body sweeps. Dancers stereotypically retire earlier than people in most other fields. Suzeau, well advanced in years from the mainstream professional dancer, dances astonishingly, a testament to the human potential to exceed expectation.
Tiffany Sizemore choreographed a comic duet titled “Tumescence.” Two dancers, Gavin Steward and Kaely Tieri, wore black and executed odd, jerky movement to the music “Russian Dance” by Tom Waits. The dance’s humor climaxed with a very unusual, dementedly suggestive use of a party noisemaker.
Kimball’s lighting of Jane Gootch’s solo “an opening” creatively accented her contained movement with angular shafts of light that hypnotically glided across her body. Gootch’s focused dancing contrasted the fluidity of most of the evening. Unfortunately, she gave herself too difficult a balance to end the piece, leaving us with a disappointing image of her wobbling, struggling to stay on one foot.
A weird, cushion-like, inflated birthday cake sat in the center of the stage for all of Eleanor Goudie-Averill’s “Make Your Cake and Lie in It,” a surreal, humorous, provocative and unusually engaging dance. Goudie-Averill hurled herself about the stage while two dancers, Tuesday Faust and Penelope Hearne, flanked the cake like back-up dancers to her solo. Faust and Hearne stayed put for almost the entire dance, rocking, executing simple gestures, while Goudie-Averill performed a smorgasbord of motion around them. This closer of Act I delighted and tickled the eye with its baffling quirk.
An alluring set piece gave Katrina Warren’s solo “Perspectives” its edge. Designed and created by Peter Warren, it consisted of a large, cubical metal box with rolling blinds hanging from the upper bars. When Warren pulled the blinds down and danced with and against her own shadow, she had us glued to her. Warren also left the box at times and did some competent, athletic sequences in space. She left her shadow dancing disappointingly unexplored.
City in Motion Artistic Director Andrea Skowronek triumphed with the group piece she created, “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” Dancers with the bare Folly Theatre wall behind them, wearing electric color, sliced the air around them and performed a mature, group dance, as well danced as it was choreographed. These artisans danced with consciousness, impressively staying together with upside down lifts — no easy task. Kimball splashed thrilling colors of light on the bare brick wall.
Susan Warden’s dance “here,” in keeping with the tenor of the evening, successfully broke a cardinal rule of choreography. Warden placed dancer Tuesday Faust on the edge of the stage, as close to us as possible. Doris Humphrey’s standard choreographic textbook, The Art of Making Dances states: “This is the place for comedy.” Good stand-up comedians deliver their words on the apron of the stage. Warden’s reflective, introspective choreography enraptured us; its proximity intensified “here’s” seizure of our attention, not with humor but with eloquence.
The opening and closing dances in A Modern Night at the Folly shared commonalities. Both employed exquisite live music and both belonged in a ballet concert, not modern.
The concert’s first work, Jennifer Owen’s “Canon Play” found some refreshing group formations, but stayed clearly in the ballet genre. The torsos stayed upright and the ballet shoes stayed on. Charles Martin’s finale piece “Inertia” pleased the hoi polloi with fog, a live band, and cliché eroticized ballet pointe movement and video projections. Martin sculpted creatively, but “Inertia” falls into the ballet category of dance. The dancers even bowed at the end of the dance with classical grandeur, fitting for the curtain call of Swan Lake, not a Modern Dance event.
A Modern Night at the Folly entertains and provokes us annually with a celebration of dance. This year, the artists broke new ground.
The next City in Motion performance will be Beautiful Discord, with the professional company ensemble, the Gem Theatre 1615 East 18th St., April 4 and 5. Call 816-474-6282 or visit www.cityinmotion.org.
David Ollington can be contacted at Ollington@aol.com.
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