writers on dancing


In Brief

"Landing/Place", Bebe Miller Company, Kay Theatre, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA. Wednesday, September 14, 2005.

A tiny wooden house withstood the flux of movement in Bebe Miller's premiere. It remained stably in place near the center of the stage except once, when shifting it involved effort and fuss. At first this prop had looked like a doll house or a toy dog house or a bird-bath shelter but then, because of  its tenacity, it occurred to me that the object might signify the concept of "home" in the dramaturgy of "Landing/Place". I couldn't be sure, though, because the choreographer consistently kept the meaning of all the imagery she had poured into this work elusive. Throughout "Landing/Place", stories seemed to hover in the wings without ever stepping onto the stage. Did the young woman who unbuttoned and removed her sweater only to put it back on, do so several times over for a narrative reason or purely for repetition's sake? When the lighting flared red and the dancers bent backwards, were they reacting to an explosion or just stating an emphatic new movement theme? Did the headstand that was minutes long allude to the yoga exercises Ruth St.Denis once practiced in public places? Other effects in this very multimedia piece could be taken to represent a hurricane, a flood and space flight - or not. Apart from such dramatic or mock dramatic moments, movement for the cast's 5 dancers (two men - Darrell Jones, David Thomson; three women - Kathleen Fisher, Angie Hauser, Kathleen Hermesdorf) had a hearth-spun texture - floppy solos, dangling duos, and group formations with medium hard, semi-bouncy rocking from leg to leg. In contrast, the visual projections ("motion capture" technology) seemed quite slick. The music, by Albert Mathias, ranged widely from sound effects to incorporated Verdi. Miller's sense of timing was a continual surprise, with persistent repetition making some sections of the piece seem long. Overall, without checking a watch, "Landing/Place" seemed to last 1.3 uninterrupted hours.—George Jackson     

Happy Birthday, Dance Place!
Dance Place has been Washington, D.C.'s center for modern dance for 25 years now. It celebrated this anniversary with a party and performance this weekend. Sharon Witting and Andrea Chastant of Arachne Aerial Arts, Sharon Mansur & Daniel Burkholder, Gesel Mason & Helanius Wilkins, Nejla Yatkin & Christian Davenport, Myrna Packer & Art Bridgeman, Tommy Parlon & Julia Smith, Lawrence Bradford & Lisa Robinson and Chalia Bellis & Justin Lewis of Tappers with Attitude were scheduled to perform. We weren't there; it was a busy weekend here, and we couldn't be everywhere! But we did not want to let this occasion pass without notice. To see what Dance Place has done, and continues to do, for this community, check their web site: Dance Place

Meisha Bosma with Bosma Dance; Millennium Stage North, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC, USA; Thursday, September 15, 2005.

"Handle with Care", Meisha Bosma's premiere, came in two sections according to the printed program. Counting emotionally, there were three sections plus an on-screen prelude of swirling skirts that signaled what we were going to see was about women. All eight dancers were female, not for the usual reason but because the subject called for it. In section 1, "Carousel", we looked in on a party for little girls. The dancers, costumed in brightly colored skirts that blossom out awkwardly, cutely, aptly, behaved like cartoon representations of kiddies. This view of childhood was partly tongue-in-cheek and would have worn thin if Bosma hadn't been so clever in what she had her brats dance. As the girls gave each other piggyback rides and played games, the choreographer segmented contour lines with anatomic savvy, angled body planes with cubistic adroitness and achieved a propulsion that was almost  Balanchinian. At the end of the party, each girl got a present, but only one displayed hers for all to see. It was a grown up woman's dress of very adult design. In Section 2, "Current", the eight women were little children no longer. Costumed sleekly, they had become serious, even intense, and moved as if engaged in rituals. Again, Bosma was (I hope) being somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Her dance drive sustained her: duos, solo moments and ensembles of dynamic ideas followed one another in profusion. In the final section, the women spoke. Each recalled a long-lingering memory. At this point, Bosma wasn't (I'm afraid) being at all ironic. Fortunately, this sentimental segment was brief. Overall, in all its parts, "Handle with Care" seemed a child's view of female maturation and that gave it freshness. Bosma tended to use music rather than converse with it, yet her exploitation of Vivaldi in Section 1 proved to be a lark. The individually strong dancers—Sarah Cook, Franceska Jandasek, Heidi Kershaw, Nicole McClam, Carrie Monger, Leslie Ann Pike, Stefanie Quinones, Stephanie Yezek—formed a cohesive grouping. Responsible for costuming was Jenny Young. This was the second of Kennedy Center's three 2005 DC dance commissions.—George Jackson  

September 19, 2005



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last updated on September 19, 2005