Blogpost: The Choreographers Showcase (Lynne Price)

The End of the Season!

Last night, BIDA closed out our inaugural season with a wonderful showcase of local choreographers. The BIDA Choreographers Showcase took place at the currently developing Mondo building, one of Le Mondo’s ambitious projects. Though the space is still in progress, it was warm and inviting and you walked in and immediately felt the potential of the space. It worked perfectly for our somewhat informal showcase. We were able to host 5 local choreographers/groups, each one with their own unique and distinct artistic vision.

Christine Hands presented “A Duet with Melissa,” a multi-media piece where Hands dances with a projection of her sister, Melissa, whose mobility is dependent on a motorized wheel chair. The work explored Melissa’s physicality, first by showing us a video of Melissa dancing and then Hands inviting us to perform some of her movements, and then later with Hands expanding on and translating the gestures into full-bodied movements. As the piece evolved, we began to hear and see Melissa giving Christine instructions such as “move to the left,” “spin around,” “tap dance,” and “clap your hands three times,”—first as a video and then as a voice for Hands to respond to live while we watched a beautiful video of the two of them dueting in a park in Hands’ hometown in Illinois. The deeper we got into the duet, the more I sank into the beauty of their relationship.

Polly Mizani presented “She Named Her Opaline,” a creepy work set to “Breezeblocks” by Alt-J that felt like it could have been, or perhaps should have been, the music video for that song. Mizani’s interpretation takes the line “Please don’t go, I’ll eat you whole, I love you so, I love you, so I love you so” and creates a narrative based on an evil little girl archetype, terrorizing and consuming her mother. Mizani’s physicality is that of someone possessed, greedy, and monstrous (literally, she looks like a giant mouth monster sometimes) and Kelly Alt, the mother, is passive and exhausted (though, not inactive by any means), reminding me of someone at the end of a long, difficult struggle. This work was previously performed for the Baltimore Dance Invitational but the intimate setting of the Choreographers Showcase, similar to the Collective’s SHORTS show where the work originally premiered, allowed the audience to see each detail and feel the creepiness deeper.

Matthew Williams presented an untitled work of his movement research practice. Williams’ piece was not performed on the stage space but instead took place in the round in an intimate space underneath a loft. Clad in only a jockstrap, Williams moved in silence, lying on the floor, in what I saw as an exercise in tension and release while shifting his focus back and forth from internal to external. It created some beautiful moments of floating and allowed us to see every muscle engaging and disengaging to create this floating image, subtly exposing the fallacy of this notion of floating when in relation to gravity. Slow and consistent we were brought into a very intimate, private practice and it was lovely to see such vulnerability.

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LucidBeings Dance, which is made up of Franki Graham and Jeanna Riscigno, presented “Symbiotic,” a duet exploring the beauty of dependent relationships. The work began with the two bodies as separate entities but they soon merged to be a single unit, engaging in lifts and intimate partnering work with the pair rarely leaving contact. They supported each other, strangled each other (gently), wound themselves around each other, climbed each other, and intertwined. One moment consisted of Graham holding Riscigno parallel to the ground while spinning around and around while Riscigno unfolded her arm, searching for the sky or the next place to grasp on. While not a unique lift, seeing it with this subtle addition of a searching arm points to the full-bodied awareness and attention LucidBeings paid to each moment.

The evening concluded with Sarah Schmitz’s “The H Dilemma,” a quartet exploring relationships and connections. Set to an Erik Satie piece and a Library Tapes song, the dancers rotated through numerous combinations—solos, duets, trios and quartets—exploring such themes as trust through weight sharing. The structure was complex and ever-changing, constantly challenging our expectations. As the work progressed, the relationships became more strained, the energy becoming more desperate, and the vulnerability and connections established at the beginning began to feel threatening. The work concluded with the dancers fleeing the stage, resolving the dance with a sense of unrest.

Despite Peter and my fumbling with the lights and audio, it was a wonderful event celebrating local choreographers. Some are new to the area, some have been around for a while, some are just beginning to present work, and some have been doing it for years. It was a joy to be able to present, witness, and share in the evening. We, BIDA, are very excited to be able to say we have finished an entire season and are excited to jump into round two (with all the lessons we learned from the first one moving us forward)!

Written by Lynne Price

Photos by Christine Hands