What a show! There was a diverse range of contemporary styles, from the simple and aesthetically pleasing, to the athletic and complicated.
The show started with the piece "Again, Together." It was a collaborative work of different dancers and companies. I understand that with collaborations, you have to make it so that the piece fits everyone. What I wasn't thrilled with was that this piece started the show. It made me nervous, because most of the movements I watched are movements that I've seen since college (and I attended from 2002-2006). It was a pretty piece full of meaning, which I've now learned to not even TRY to interpret these dances, but get the feeling for what they are. The movements fit everyone because of the fact that they were so simple. I did like the way in which they created patterns in the space.
The next piece was "Closing At the End," choreographed by Angie Conte (Angie Moone Dance). There were 3 dancers involved in this piece (2 of which were wearing denim- good for you, but it couldn't have been comfortable!). This piece actually sparked a small conversation between me and my mom, and me and my boyfriend. Both my mother and my boyfriend thought it went on for too long. In the beginning of the piece, I was thinking about how I wasn't getting it and I wasn't feeling it, but as it progressed, I found myself really liking it. I feel as though if it hadn't progressed in the manner that it did, in the length that it did, I wouldn't have felt like the story had truly unfolded. Again, I won't even try to interpret the story, but the way in which this dance developed, it needed to in order for it feel complete. I liked the way in which the three dancers at the end were connected and entwined in each other's dancing. It was different, and some of the gesture work had me captivated.
The next piece was "Goes On and On" choreographed by Jennifer Gamache-Dubilo (Eclipse Dance Company). It was a group of girls dressed in plain colored dresses and one gentleman dressed in all black. It was a piece that incorporated a lot of ballet technique, which to me leans more towards the commercial contemporary versus the more post-modern contemporary (which I liked!). I enjoyed the simplicity of it, but what had me going a little crazy was the intent of the piece. I saw some girls smiling, while some didn't have any expression, while at the same time some had a look of angst on their face. Was this piece meant to be happy? Was it meant to be sad? To me, the different expressions distracted from the dancing itself.
The next piece was "Hyperactivity" which was choreographed by my sister Chantal Doucett for the Urbanity Dance Summer Intensive. I know my sister's choreography and I could immediately tell that this was her style. It had lots of quirky gestures mixed in with some exciting music and movement on stage. It was the first piece of the afternoon which incited excitement. By that time, it was welcome (so many angsty pieces in contemporary dance. Can we not find a place to be happy in the contemporary world? Angst does not equal maturity!). The movement was fun, and I often caught myself saying things under my breath ("werk!" "Get it!" "Yaaaas!"). It was great to see this constantly moving, constantly changing, always evolving piece with great music. The dancers got into the movement, and I loved the turn sequence in which one of the boys performed by himself. The exits and entrances even had great movement to it. Perhaps I'm biased, but really Chantal did an amazing job.
Next was "Momento" choreographed by Ali Smith. Wow. This dancer was a talent. I'm assuming she was young- she looked it.
The maturity in her dancing, though, was outstanding. What got me about this piece was that it was a beautiful mix of something that you might see at a competition mixed with a post-college commercial company, and yet the dancer held this embodiment of innocence. She danced very honestly, and to have that at what I'm assuming is a young age, is a gift. The choreography moved and kept me watching and focused on the dancer, which isn't always the case in solos. It was a great number.
"Everything Happens In Threes" came next, choreographed by Erica Ligeski-Schroder (Company Four). Sadly, I was bored. It didn't capture my attention. There were no "moments" in the piece. Personally, I need a piece to capture my eye at least once. I need to be able to see a place where the music crescendos and the dancers go for it, or I need a moment of silence with a look to the audience that leaves you cold. SOMETHING. Looking back on my notes, I could barely remember the piece. Not that it was a bad piece by any means. I'm sure the dancers worked hard and that the choreographer had intention behind it. But I didn't see intention. I just saw three dancers on a stage doing movements. I didn't even see purpose in the faces. Perhaps that was the intention, but as an audience member, it just didn't hold me. I'd be interested to see if there were other works for the company that would be more exciting.
The next piece, however, grabbed me and held me the whoooooooole time! "Wrong Way" choreographed by Brian Washburn was another piece that was exciting. It was full of athleticism and control. It was almost a mix of dance and martial arts. I will admit, for the first part of the piece, I was fascinated with the hairstyle of one of the gentlemen. He had this really cool mohawk-esque style that I just kept taking glances at! The dancing was phenomenal though. There was evident struggle in the intention of the movement. The only thing that drove me a little up the wall was the back flip. To me, where does one cross the line from dance to acro? I understand that if it works for the piece and the dancers can do it, then maybe it seems right to the choreographer. I just felt as though the back flip was so jarring in this piece that it almost ruined it for me. Almost. I really loved the strength that was shown by both men, as well as the fact that each of them truly brought their own style to the piece. It was definitely one of the most memorable of the afternoon.
After the intermission, the show started back up with "Suffocated Pulses" choreographed by SkooJ CorE-O (Boston Community Dance Project). This piece had its moments. Some of the dancers to me at times were too angsty and too over the top. There is a way to do angst and a way to subtely progress it so that the dancers show it. I thought some seemed frantic at times and it seemd jarring. I'm all for making dancers look almost "ugly" in their dancing when there is a reason behind it, but either I don't know the reason, or the reason behind the dancing was over interpreted. Seeing the line up of music they chose, I was wary, but it honestly worked for the piece. I did notice that a lot of the time my eyes drifted from the different soloists to the corps dancers in the back. Sometimes the movement in the back was more captivating than the frantic dancing in the front.
The next piece was "Torrent" choreographed by Meghan Anderson for Urbanity Dance Summer Intensive. A very cool and exciting piece. You can tell that. Meghan was a competition dancer, just as you can tell my sister was, too. The piece is exciting filled with entrances and exits and fun movements that incite excitement. It helps, too, when there is that bright pop of color onstage (again, more color in the contemporary world please! Gray, black, and white does not equal maturity!). The music was definitely a driving force behind the dancing and the dancers really threw themselves into the movement. It was definitely a fun piece.
The piece that followed was probably the most intriguing of the whole show. "But first, let me take a..." choreographed by Jessica Muise (Intimations Dance) was captivating. It started with a man controlling the music onstage with the dancers. The dancing started and all of a sudden, you hear a dancer call "STOP!" After I caught on to what was happening, I realized that dancers were controlling the dance. Commands like "stop" "continue" "faster" "jump higher" "lower" etc were prevalent throughout. There was a clear message to the piece, and the dancing was great. I usually tend to be very uncomfortable watching experimental styles like this onstage, but this really worked for me, and I really really enjoyed the way in which they controlled who was dancing what and how, and how partners switched and stopped and continued. It was flawlessly executed.
Next was "Dust" choreographed by Danielle Pastuszak and Ryan Valente. What a beautiful female dancer. Strong, pretty feet, and held my attention. The lighting in the beginning was different from what a lot of the other dances had incorporated, and the way that it came down from the back corner was almost haunting. The choreography wasn't overly complicated, but I enjoyed the partner work and the beauty of its simplicity resonated with me. Some of the lifts were strongly done and the gentleman was great base for her.
The piece to follow was called "Noire" choreographed by Cayley Christoforou (Extensions Dance Company). As I watched the piece I kept thinking "oh this is so angsty. Oh we've all seen the wipe-the-makeup-off-our-face-and-show-how-much-turmoil-this-causes-us. Oh this choreography is so predictable." Honestly, though, the dancers were FIERCE. I loved the costuming choice of black lace top, purple skirt on the bottom, and the buns. I wanted to judge this piece, but the dancing was great, and the ferocity of the dancers was captivating. How could I not respect that?
The second to last piece was "Reckless Secrets" choreographed by Heather Budinscak (FreeFall Contemporary Dance Company). There was a clear hint of "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil." I liked the beginning and the end with the gestures that incorporated that hint. It was different and intertwined the dancers in an interesting way. The red costumes popped, and the dancers strong.
The final piece of the show was another of my sister's- "Visceral Affairs." It was a dance to Ave Maria and it was my favorite costume of the night for sure. Beautiful maroon crop tops with lace on the shoulders and white lace high-low skirts. Gorgeous. The choreography for the 3 dancers was exquisite. It was soft to go with the music, yet at the same time held a strength and almost underlying force to the dance. Chantal has a talent for making dancers do something but in a way that you wouldn't necessarily have thought to make them do. It was a very pretty piece to end the show.
Overall, I loved the show. I'm hoping in the next few years to make a day of it and go to all three shows. I would have loved to see what other companies outside of Boston have to offer. I will say, though, Boston holds its own in the dance community. A few years ago, you never would have been able to see the kind of talent that I saw yesterday. You wouldn't have even known it existed. Boston is finally starting to find its dance voice, and I'm glad that Betsi Graves, who is the director of this event, is driving it.
Well done Boston!