Arts & Culture / Dance / Mosaic / April 27, 2011

Connective Tissue attaches meaning to movement

Connective Tissue, the collective dance performance from Choreography Workshop, featured connections in the form of a puppeteer controlling three ballerinas, the point of contact of bodies and continuing storyline.

Choreographer sophomore Kate LaRose dedicated her piece “The Solemnest of Industries” to the memory of her grandfather as “the movement and music are reflections to the loss and memory of loved ones.”

The beginning was silent save for the beat of a drum. Her dance seemed to represent a cycle, as LaRose laid on her stomach on freshman Evelyn Langley’s back while Langley lifted herself up in circles. In an impressive synthesis of bodies, they continued to move in tandem, even rolling together with LaRose still on Langley’s back.

After Langley and LaRose separated, LaRose began to sing and soon members of the Knox College Choir joined her onstage. Her flowing purple dress contrasted to the black outfits of the choir. The choir sang “Requiem Aeternam,” a melancholy song composed by junior Edward Davis, as they circled her. In low light, LaRose put her all into her dance as she fell, dived and dragged herself on the floor as if mourning.

Junior Jamie White’s “Reckon” incorporated intricate lighting as dancers moved with each flash of the stage lights. Piano music, ominous voices, distortion and electronica provided the background for the dancers in black dresses. During “Reckon” dancers would scatter, run as if attracted to each other and reach to touch light. The dance ended with a loud slam of the dancers on the floor, the most evident allusion to the “Reckon’s” inspiration—the Manhattan Project.

“Over Again” by senior Carlyse Owens had a storyline of friendship lost and gained. It started with one friendship between two dancers until a new dancer came along, splitting them. Scorned, the lone dancer experienced different emotions while looking on to the other two dancing. Finally, the two original friends were reunited at the end. “Over Again,” like LaRose’s piece, had the dancers sing along with the music.

Junior Brandon Paraharm, listed as “B. Avery” on the program, choreographed “Averismo: La Transicion,” an experiment in language and dance. Before moving to the stage, Paraharm spoke to individual members of the audience in Spanish, asking in a friendly manner how they were and at one point charmed an audience member by kissing her hand. Paraharm would continue to speak in Spanish in intervals while spinning around. As his dance progressed, his tone darkened to sadness and finally anger, seemingly as a response to the audience not understanding what he was saying. As his calm deteriorated, he took off his clothes piece by piece until he wore nothing but his underwear. He ended his piece after curling on the floor.

“Quarantined Contact” by senior Kathryn Nellett was akin to an Alice in Wonderland invaded by robots. Junior Brynn Ogilvie looked lost as she tried to maneuver around the room filled with dancers who moved in stiff and mechanical motions like robots. The only way they would interact with her was to check her vitals, such as her pulse, and give her a hospital gown. Frustrated at this limited contact, Ogilvie waved her hand in front of their faces but they would continue to dance and ignore her. She tried mimicking the dancers’ moves but found it difficult to keep up.

As what seemed to be a continuation of “Quarantined Contact,” “Point of Contact” had Ogilvie disgusted at and ultimately rejecting her hospital gown. After she examined the gown, she tried to rip it and threw it on the ground only for White to pick it up and hand it to her again. Most of the dance was set to “Together We Will Live Forever,” from the movie “The Fountain,” which is similar to the dance’s concept of a couple torn apart by illness and death. This emotional dance received a loud applause at the end.

“All Strings Attached” by Ogilvie had White acting as the puppet master to three ballerinas, seniors Leslie Kang, Nellett and freshman Kelsey Witzling. “Strings” was full of controlled and masterful moves from puppet master to puppet as the dancers seamlessly and effortlessly moved along with White.

Also choreographed by Ogilvie, “Things you do that really piss me off…” was a minimalist dance involving an address to the audience from Ogilvie. Other dances responded to Ogilvie as voices offstage as she asked “What do you think of me?” Using the prop of a box, Ogilvie crawled to it, finally opening it to reveal a light inside.

In “Bare-Boned” by junior Emma Poland, five dancers were braced together, supporting each other until the group pushed dancers one by one onto the floor. Again, they joined together with their heads on each other’s backs until they were pushed away once again. The contrast lasted throughout, the dancers moving in groups and independently in this piece about “the ugly side of trust.”

The final dance of the night entitled “Walking Ashore,” choreographed by White, was based on the story of “The Little Mermaid.” Dancers in sea-green dresses played the part of mermaids as they fiddled with their hair and washed their fins before gaining legs. They were graceful in their motion as they danced slowly across the room toward a bench at the other end. Using the bench as a beam to balance on, these former mermaids highlighted their newly discovered way of moving.

Two choreographers decided to take a different route, instead choosing to do site-specific pieces. Junior Rachel Lyman’s dance took place before the show began, in the hallway outside of the ceramics studio in the basement of CFA. Three dancers popped out from behind various wall posts and the dancers shuffled across the narrow space, coming together at the end. Lyman also videotaped the dance at an earlier date and from various perspectives to create a short film of the dance that was shown simultaneously.

Junior Emily Berkson’s dance happened after the first half of the show as a segue into intermission. The audience followed six dancers up the stairs, weaving their way in and out of the railings. They continued into the lobby of CFA, ending at Kresge Recital Hall. Berkson’s dance featured no music or special lighting but instead focused on the dancers interacting in new ways with the space, ways that students might not normally consider.

Sheena Leano

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