Trinity Flow - 'Metamorphosis'; Race & Rhythm - 'Frida'; innercoredance - 'Emmergence'By Thea Nerissa Barnes
January 30, 2006 -- The Place, London
Choreographer Robert Halley seemed to have a point for his dance that resided within his beliefs. Program notes and some of the spoken text quote from the words of spiritual leader Rajneesh Chandra Mohan Jain, the spiritual head of Osho Rajneesh movement started in the 1970’s. The dance, though, revealed only a hint of the words of Osho which profess a relentless search for enlightenment.
As the dance opens, there seems to be one central figure, Deidrea Halley, who is somehow different from the rest. The others, numbering four in total, are disparate and move as an ensemble though not totally coordinated in every nuance. Dancers performed mundane movements, virtuosic and conventional movements that most times obstruct this central figure.
A monologue spoken by Kurt Kansley speaks of truth being a dance of life. At several points, spoken text accompanies a solo dance by Deidrea Halley. There is also a piano solo by Kansley which is joined briefly by Hugo Cortez, who plays percussively on the floor. There are a series of individual solos and a duet, some contemporary dance, others acrobatic tumbling type moves while Deidrea Halley did yogic-like sequences upstage left. Given her spatial relationship, Deidrea Halley’s movement voice was stilted, silenced by the movements of the others, but perhaps that was what was intended.
The dancers are all exceptional performers, though one is forced to contemporise the significance of their moves in relation to each other; in relation to the text, in relation to Deidrea Halley. The work starts out vested in retrospection but ends when moments of virtuosity seem more for their own sake than for meaning of the work. Sensationalised, these movements confuse the logic of the work. Why are these dancers in this space; what is their relationship to each other? As the ensemble breaks into solo expressions, most are expressions of frustration, scattered, disparate and desperate movement phrases, some angered, running around the space having little consequence.
If the intention was the deconstruction of conventional ensemble order, the spatial arrangements were not scattered enough. If the intention was a gathering of like minded devotees performing their own expressions of a particular credo, sometimes dancing together, sometimes not, then this was partially accomplished. One wonders though, what was the single meaning embodied in the central figure, what was the message the choreographer intended.
Race & Rhythm
A woman in red lying in huddle, crawls, swings legs akimbo, performs strained stretches to stand and then falls abruptly downstage left in a strip of white light. Given the work is about Frida Kahlo, the Mexican painter who drew extensively from Mexican folk art traditions to express her life experiences and perspectives, the sound accompanying this sequence of movement is a bus wreck. As the work progresses, more dancers enter performing flamenco-like spirals in the back, stomping, one playing castanets fluently.
In seated positions on the floor, five female dancers perform spiraled positions while portraits of Kahlo are projected on the backdrop. The portraits are photographed reproductions of Kahlo’s retablo-style paintings. As the portraits of Kahlo play on the backdrop, each one of the dancers takes a turn to perform a solo upstage centre.
A range of dresses -- a simple blue dress, a colourful, festive dress and a wedding dress -- travel across the stage on hangers. Denzil Barnes enters performing break dance type moves as the pictorial imagery of Kahlo continues. Several duets occur, one an Argentine-type tango between two women and a tense physical quarrel between Barnes and one of the women.
Throughout the work, there are references to Kahlo, a dancer miming cutting her hair while Monica Acosta, the singer at the beginning of the work, carries a body brace and later a small skeleton. Acosta later speaks Kahlo’s words, “I have neither father or mother to pity my sorrow, I am an orphan all alone. I bear torment and disgrace in the depths of my soul, such was the pain”.
The performers’ depiction of particular events in Kahlo’s life represented and expressed themselves much like Kahlo did, taping Mexican and Spanish performance vocabularies. The singing voice and movement vocabulary is a mixture of Mexican and Spanish expressions -- flamenco-like moves and using castanets mixed with contemporary dance expressions.
The costumes -- from those worn to the garments suspended from the rigging -- were Mexican inspired in look and colour. This dance, performed with reverence, seemed a movement collection of Kahlo’s life changing moments that defined a course and way of life. The work is a reverential collage seemingly not intended to depict a biography of Kahlo as much as a declaration of some of Kahlo’s most troubling life experiences.
The houselights are out and four dancers take their place while a projection of blue green ooze is seen on the backdrop. The image seems of a substance that melts or decays while the dancers move on the floor and about the space with reaching gestures.
The sound is at first a vibration of a sort that progresses into a tonal hum. Soon the hum sound gives way to a rhythm, and the dancers’ individual statements, simple, vertical mundane progressions, develop into recognisable contemporary dance moves that travel about the stage causing simultaneous statements, chance encounters and interactions.
Running upstage and downstage, the projections disappear and a white light throws shadows of the dancers on the backdrop. The dancers are now pulsating to the beat of “Spirit of the Dance,” a popular dance music cut. The music selection draws on several well known dance cuts mostly from the 1980’s and 1990’s while the dancers perform coordinated jazz and popular dance moves. Considering that “Emmergence” might signify emergence and how the work started, one wonders how that initial creative spark ended up being insipid and trite.
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