Photo by Lori Teague
May 2, 2009
Three is believed to be a magical number. It’s stock bumped up this weekend at CORE Performance Company’s performance of “Three,” which included work by Beppie Blankert, Alicia Sánchez and Polly Motley. Not only were these three outstanding works, each carrying a distinct choreographic thumb print, but combined, made for one of the most satisfying dance concerts of the Houston dance season. CORE—in top form here—includes Blake Dalton, Kimberly Kleiber, Claire Molla, Mary Jane Pennington, and former Houston dancers Corian Ellisor and Alex Abarca. The evening, presented by Several Dancers Core, concluded their Houston season for this Houston/Atlanta based troupe.
Blankert directs Beppie Blankert Danceconcerts in the Netherlands and tours internationally. Her offering Cumulus, perhaps the most traditional in the concert, begins with snippets of text from e.e. cummings’ poem “may I feel said he,” while a solo dancer shines a hand held spotlight on a trio of women. Set to various string quartets by Charles Ives, Blankert stays neatly within the post-modern lines, blending gesture and more formal dance vocabulary. Text from cummings’ smart poem punctuate Blanket’s lyrical tendancies, lending a lightness and wit. Molla’s detailed attention to the power of iconic shape stood out. D. Patton White’s chic earth-toned costumes added a gentle glamour, and Kris Phelps’ lighting design emphasized the sculptural aspects of Blanket’s nuanced choreography.
Sanchez directs the Alicia Sánchez y Compañía: El Teatro de Movimiento based in Mexico City. Her work was last seen here in Texas two years ago at the Big Range Dance Festival. In Tus Pasos Encontrados (Your Found Steps) Sánchez plays with the notion of completeness. Four dancers stand in a row in front of their shoes repeating gestures. They lift their shirts as if to check themselves and perform other motions of grooming. Eventually, they strip down to their slips and underwear and are free to move and interact. Somewhere in the middle they play with their clothes as if they have forgotten their function. Shoes become markers, safe places to land, and maps to new places. At one point a row of shoes transforms into line of rocks for a clever game of stepping stones. Finally, the dancers redress, step into their shoes and look up as the lights fade. They are complete. Dalton, Kleiber, Molla and Pennington each add a distinct sensuality to Sánchez’s highly theatrical dance.
Motley, originally from Nacogdoches, spent time in Houston in the 1970s and is known here as James Clouser’s former assistant at Houston Ballet and Space/ Dance /Theater. Currently, the Vermont-based artist works closely with the New England Foundation on the Arts making work for non-traditional venues.
Motley’s Charmed Romantics obeys no traditional ideas of structure or form. Therein lies this spacious piece’s power, charm, and breathtaking originality. It’s full of movement surprises, yet each feels completely organic. Five dancers wearing gray jumpsuits enter and exit in rhythms and patterns of their own logic. Relationships develop with a pairing here and there, a chance meeting of a trio, while individual dancers occasionally appear lost in their own thought. In one delicious section, Molla and Pennington trade secrets while Ellisor and Dalton exchange caressing hugs and Abarca sits watching in wonder. The piece, chock full of cross sections like this, dwells in the intimacies of both self-absorption and human entanglement. The movement jettisons back and forth between quick, sweeping traveling steps across the stage and endearing passages of self-amusement. The mood also shifts been internal and external, allowing the audience to oscillate between voyeur and participant. Eric la Casa’s sounds of the Paris subway along with samples from a wistful Diedra Adams’ song, come and go as well. Adams’ song sneaks in mid-lift, adding a note of tenderness. Motley’s work appears to breathe, as pulses of sound, movement and changing intentions weave in and out. Even the space feels elastic.
Strong performances by Abarca, Dalton, Ellisor, Molla and Pennington, who also contributed to the choreography, give the piece even more dimension. Motley’s careful process leaves enough evidence to gather that she spent time getting to know these dancers, how they think, move, and inhabit her work. Charmed Romantics casts such an intoxicating spell that when the lights dim, it feels too soon. Why end now? We were just getting to know you.
Reprinted from Dance Source Houston.