NEXT: WARMER. An evening of performance on climate change
A Dance Review by Julinda D. Lewis
At: Dogtown Dance Theatre, 109 West 15th Street, RVA 23224
Performances: June 25 & 26, 2021.
Ticket Prices: In-Person Tickets: $20. Streaming Tickets: $8 to see NEXT: WARMER right from your home: https://dogtown.vhx.tv/pro…/company-e-presents-next-warmer
Info: (804) 230-8780 or dogtowndancetheatre.com
The Art of Looking Back. Choreography: Emese Nagy (Hungary). Music: Jingle Bell Rock by Bobby Helms; Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree and Winter Wonderland by Brenda Lee; Mandolin Concerto I C Major by Antonio Vivaldi; A rich life with less stuff | The Minimalists TEDxWhitefish
These Frames. Choreography: Robert Rubama (Brooklyn, NY, USA). Music: Organization: Foundation Foundation by Dylan Lambert; Frames by Robert Rubama
Current. Choreography: Maddie Hanson (Canada). Music: Midnight by Kyle Preston; Behind Every Decision by Yehezkel Raz; Dark Tension by Kyle Preston; Hibernation by Peter James Johnson
Y zero. Choreography: Ashley Lobo (India). Music: Original score by Chirag Agarwal & DWC
Passenger. Choreography: Rayven Leak (USA). Music: Original score by Clifton Brockington; additional music by Solange
Having sent out a call for entries on climate change, Company | E, under the artistic direction of Paul Gordon Emerson and Pilkington, selected works by Maddie Hanson (Canada), Ashley Lobo (India), Emese Nagy (Hungary), and Robert Rubama (USA). A fifth work, by Rayven Leak, marked the debut of the Liz Cherry Jones Memorial Commission, awarded to a current student or recent graduate, in collaboration with the Company’s partner, Howard University. All five works came under the umbrella of the title Next: Warmer, a concert of works exploring the theme of climate change and reducing the company’s own footprint in ways large and small.
Emese Nagy’s The Art of Looking Back was at once ridiculously awkward and surprisingly graceful. Dancer Horizon Miguel donned layers of clothing and flung his body around a confined space that was also home to a rotary phone, a mermaid fishtail, a belly button brush, and several boxes. Meanwhile, his partner, Kelsey Rohr, rummaged through piles of clothing and unidentifiable debris. They appeared to be a pair of hoarders reveling in – and being consumed by – years of uncontrolled consumerism.
Robert Rubama’s quintet, These Frames, used abstract movement hung on a framework of architectural design in an ambient soundscape that was oddly soothing. The opening solo made me think of a bird doing yoga. Rubama employed a transient center of gravity, with asymmetrical motifs and off-kilter spines that seemed physically and logically incapable of supporting the moving bodies that enveloped them. This may be his way of metaphorically addressing the larger issue of sustainable practices in architecture and construction and its impact on global carbon emissions. I was particularly struck by a repeating motif in which the dancers placed their hands at their hip in a diamond shape and lifted them upwards. It was so simple yet so powerful to watch these earthen vessels learn to construct new earthen homes.
Maddie Hanson’s Current – first introduced to Richmond at the previous weeks RDF21 Weekend Two – was performed against a video background of earth, sky, and water. The dancers embodied an undulating spiraling body roll and moved as a unit, giving the impression of being part of a whole even when not touching. Our connection to the Earth and our relationship with water were the focus. Again, I felt that gravity was relative. It was fascinating how connected the various works – each by a different choreographer – appeared to be as the program progressed.
Ashley Lobo’s Y zero examined our relationship to planet Earth and looked at the Earth as a living being. The women’s tunics were reminiscent of the ancient Greek peplos or the ancient Roman chiton, and the men’s garments reminded me of monk’s attire. Both drew the mind back in time and supported a sense of history as the dancers moved through this very grounded and immersive work. Lobo’s work seemed to be not so much about the movement as it was about the atmosphere it created.
The program closed with Passenger. Rayven Leak, a 2020 graduate of Howard University, crafted this movement collage of broken, boneless postures infused with hip hop and lyrical movement. A Rasta walk, smooth spins, and catwalks were all embraced by the dancers, who were wrapped in an original score by company resident artist Clifton Brockington, mixed with additional music by Solange.
It was deeply satisfying the way the five works by five different choreographers fit together into a seamless thematic movement. This is as it should be.
Photos from Company | E and Dogtown webpages. Video clips from Company | E website. Photo by Dave Parrish Photography.