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OnStage Dance Firm ‘Season 21’


Capitol Theater Constructing, Arlington, MA (and streaming by way of OnStagedanceco.com).
Movie screenings January September 11, and digital program streaming January 9. 

Everyone knows and love a superb “behind-the-scenes” section – or we all know it, within the sense of being acquainted. As a reviewer within the age of COVID, it’s been fascinating to see how choreographers and corporations have gotten artistic and more and more expert with the medium of dance on movie (one which many have turned to for practicality and security of all concerned). 

A kind of diversifications, for a lot of corporations – and Larger Boston-based OnStage Dance Firm particularly – has been intriguing and informative “behind-the-scenes” interviews and video segments to accompany dance movies. These segments, proper together with the dance movies themselves, have gotten more and more well-crafted and absorbing to expertise over the three digital seasons that this firm has offered: culminating in January 2022’s Season 21 program. 

These choices gave insights into idea and inventive course of, from the artists themselves — in ways in which I’ve not seen a lot (by and enormous, with some exceptions) with dwell dance. They therein provided viewers members extra assured footholds into understanding and appreciation of every work. Past that, these segments supplied a window into these artists as creators and as folks – making the work all of the extra intriguing and human.

As at all times with this firm, Season 21 dance movies additionally mirrored that individuality and variety of imaginative and prescient, aesthetic curiosity, stylistic energy and inventive method. The end result was a multifaceted program with one thing absolutely new to get pleasure from with every work: one thing new, however at all times sincere and genuine. This evaluate highlights those that had been most impactful and memorable for me personally, though all the works had been that to a point, in their very own methods. 

Opening this system was OnStage Director Jennifer Kuhnberg’s Get Prepared. She described it as embodying the ability inside femininity, and in addition extra “arduous hitting” jazz than she typically choreographs (so this was an intriguing departure for her, she famous). Certainly, the motion was very geometric and accented, with clear traces and different shaping true to traditional jazz kind – one thing, in reality, that’s seen much less and fewer as of late. 

The ensemble danced on a dimly-lit black field stage (lighting design by Lynda Rieman), which easily aligned with their black and white costuming. In enterprise informal, they embodied easy magnificence and the ability of a assured feminine chief, in or out of enterprise. Enhancing all of that had been subtle results just like the dancers throwing their jackets over one shoulder in slow-motion — like an expert chief who’s simply closed the deal, filed that huge story or made their subsequent entrepreneurial transfer (videography and enhancing by Andres Calderon/dresticHaus).

As will not be at all times the case with this dance model, there was nothing overtly sultry or sexualized – aside from prideful carriage of their our bodies simply as they’re. The ensemble made clear that the bodily is nowhere close to the one place the place female energy lies, however lots of it will probably relaxation there, too. To finish, the ensemble fashioned a tableau — illustrating them as distinctive people, but additionally joined of their grounded energy, and thru that being greater than the sum of their elements.  

Following that was Amy Foley’s A Arduous Rain’s Gonna Fall, which she described as “tangentially about nature.” One may discover inside it an honoring of nature but in addition one thing merely harmonious, lovely and easily calming. The work was a easy montage of outside solo dances, in varied pure settings. 

The assorted movers danced in a launched, but formed and supported, manner. The digital camera shot switched between them typically, and I did marvel what the impact of staying on a number of of them for longer may need been. Because it was, nevertheless, there was one thing thrilling about these frequent enhancing cuts.  

There was additionally one thing Isadora Duncan concerning the dancers’ simple flowing clothes and naked toes, socks or sneakers with shut contact to the earth, however – most of all – their motion filled with sincere honoring of their physique’s inclinations. Simply as I think about of Duncan and her proteges, additionally they had no worry of getting soiled or messy; they danced proper on and within the leaf cowl on the grassy floor.

Later within the work, the shot seamlessly transitioned such that one dancer appeared to proceed or full the motion of one other. To finish, the entire ensemble joined in the identical motion, in canon, every of them executing that motion in their very own time. These filming approaches (videography and enhancing by Jennifer Kuhnberg and Andres Calderon/dresticHaus) made the work all of the extra pleasing and memorable – all of the extra so with this being a time when our connections to one another and the outside are sometimes on our thoughts. 

Andrea Unzueta Martinez’s The Dance of the Oyster Microbes got here fourth in this system. Though it did take a second to seize me as such, guiding the work was a splendidly creative idea in addition to an method to bringing that idea to life. In her introduction to the work, Unzueta Martinez defined that the piece was a sharing by way of dance of her PhD analysis on marine life – and that the work was additionally infused along with her Colombian heritage.

Composing the movie had been completely different groupings of dancers in addition to pictures of ocean and river scenes, with textual content throughout the display for context (together with features of Unzueta Martinez’s analysis) all through. There was additionally vibrant Latin American styling all through the work — in costuming, music and motion vocabulary (together with jazz, hip hop and different social dance parts). 

All of those parts got here collectively cohesively for fairly an pleasurable closing product. Extra particular even than that was how Unzueta Martinez formed the work by way of these private and treasured elements of her – sharing them with us to share key features of herself as a researcher, artist and girl. 

Coming eighth in this system was Teresa Fardella’s Suspiria, in an environment fairly distinctive inside this program, delightfully spooky and creepy. Fardella defined how she began with a single motion phrase and “noticed how witchy [the ensemble] may very well be,” all in a quest to create a horror movie-type really feel. The narrative of this “horror movie” was a lady getting misplaced within the woods and assembly these witches. Would they draw her into their witchy methods? Viewers members may think about that for themselves, making a “film” in their very own thoughts. 

That motion phrase did seem all through the work: filled with releases of the torso, an expansive arm pathway, and extensions with a gently bent knee (“perspective” in dance terminology) – nothing overly advanced, however efficient in its readability. Formations of circles, with characters slowly elevating their arms, as if honoring the spirits of the forest, had been all fairly traditional “witchy.” In any case, the work felt extra about environment, aesthetic, and character presence than about motion (even whereas that was an indispensable piece of the puzzle). 

In her introduction, Fardella described how she’s at instances discovered working with movie aesthetic and design results difficult, however all of that really got here off fairly sturdy on this work (typically we’re our personal harshest critics, because the very true cliche goes!). She did create the efficient horror film really feel that she had shared that she wished to create, all of it coming collectively in a unified, satisfying manner. Fardella supplied enhancing, Alex Drumm videography and Lynda Rieman lighting. 

Coming after that was Catherine Shortliffe’s piece Avalon. In her introduction, Shortliffe shared that she enjoys prospects of movie: equivalent to selections of movie angles and which dancers are within the shot. Shortliffe additionally famous that the work is lyric-driven, and the way these phrases join with the place we are actually. In that sense, the work was “undoubtedly a pandemic piece” – however one about pleasure, reunion and a hopeful future somewhat than something despondent. 

All of us have our (typically heavy and arduous) ideas and emotions concerning the current state of the world, nonetheless mired in a pandemic. Shortliffe provided hers by way of the artwork of dance – and in so doing provided one thing splendidly uplifting.

The work’s environment, aesthetic, and sensory melange instantly pulled me in. The ensemble joined outdoor (one thing that we’re fairly acquainted with), with an expansive pure panorama behind them (on the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, MA). A highway beside them dropped at thoughts passage, development, a journey. They wore white attire: conveying purity, a clean slate, a contemporary state. Mixed with these parts, the rating (Avalon by Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi) infused, in a heartwarming manner, an Appalachia really feel: Americana!

The dancers provided to the digital camera motion considerably inner, but additionally beneficiant and joyful – as in the event that they had been relishing in how good it feels to have it in and thru their our bodies. Taking small steps, turns, and upward reaches, they repeated a pleasing motion phrase. That repetition labored within the sense of this piece: of life happening, ongoing assist of individuals in your life, and the satisfaction of your every day work regardless of the existence of present hardship. 

Contrasting these out of doors pictures towards that expansive panorama had been moments of dancers, in smaller teams, indoors and touring highway within the woods (videography and enhancing by Andres Calderon/dresticHaus). Such variance is usually essential for a completely dynamic aesthetic presentation. That structural selection additionally spoke to Shortliffe’s said curiosity in all the prospects inside movie pictures. In the long run, the dancers all confronted one another in a circle and slowly lowered their arms – an beautiful second that felt like giving, receiving, and a gap to group and human connection. 

A really enjoyable and vibrant finale closed out this system: with completely different teams of performers dancing in several types, highlight moments for every choreographer, and sections of everybody merely dance-partying. Loudly and proudly, the track proclaimed “we don’t want permission to bop!” – certainly, we don’t! As these artists’ private and inventive sharings underscored, we don’t want permission to create issues which might be aligned with who we authentically are. 

COVID has taken quite a bit from us, nevertheless it’s additionally given us some invaluable issues: together with exploration of latest media for dance artwork (whether or not or not we’ve been pressured into these new approaches), in addition to encouragement to reassess how we join with others in addition to with ourselves. Human tales, like these inside OnStage Dance Firm’s Season 21, can lead us on these kinds of reflections with surer footing. COVID has taught us one factor for certain, I’d argue: a human focus is really one thing to carry onto. 

By Kathryn Boland of Dance Informa.











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