By Walter Rutledge
Dance New Amsterdam (DNA) presented Raw Material on October 6-7, 2011. This choreographic laboratory showcased the works of five emerging choreographers, each presenting works that were a maximum of ten minutes in length. The choreographers were selected through a juried panel and the works are developed over a six-month workshop-intensive period.
The choreographers received feedback from their colleagues and were mentored by an established dance maker, who provided professional expertise and assisted in honing the works for public viewing. For this series Gus Solomons jr took on the role as mentor/ artistic advisor for the five emerging artists. This unique program also provides funding, studio space, and marketing support.
Lauren Grace Bakst opened the program with the New York premiere of Trespass Trespass. The trio was a revealing tone poem of a dance. The use of a handheld light source and muted fragmented sentences reinforced the works intimacy, and also added a surreal dream-like quality. The work drew the contrast between stillness and rest, two concepts that appear similar on the surface. Trespass Trespass is a square peg that does fits into a round hole.
Coughing Consonants (World Premiere) was a solo danced by the choreographer, Jumatatu Poe. The work relied on strong side lighting to produce shadowed images that were as much about the pictorial negative space and the images themselves. This provided Poe the opportunity to create sculptural shapes that were both androgynous and gender non-specific. The use of the structural columns in performance space was memorable. Poe partially disappeared behind a column and at on point ran his nails across the surface creating an eerie audible effect.
Lauren Hale Biniaris, artistic director of Lauren Hale Dance, presented Umbilicus (World Premiere). The metaphoric use of the rocking chair artfully assisted the choreographer to illustrate family life in this well-developed dance work. The use of the chair ranged from lulling, secure and nurturing to powerful and destructive; thus epitomizing the universal dysfunction in every family.
Marjani Forte of Love/Forte A Collective presented To Co-Exist (World Premiere). To Co-Exist was a truly collaborative work with composer Everette Saunders, visual artist Johann Mittnacht, and culinary artist Adhali Armendariz. The work featured an all female quartet; and had strong theatrical elements that attempted to be sensory stimulating beyond the normal performance boundaries.
Forte was able to make the audience more than passive participants when she raised the house lights. This successfully invaded the audience’s safety of being observers in the dark. The women walked straight forward toward the seats creating a feeling of intimidation, but when they lowered themselves out of view the audience strained to see them; a great comment on human nature.
I Shatter, (World Premiere) a solo choreographed and performed by Aaron McGloin was an extremely visually satisfying work. The work opened with a prelude in silence that established both the movement style and inner musicality of the dance. McGlion has a long, lithe and pliant body, which was perfectly suited for his movement style. His upper torso and arms were an almost hypnotic ribbon of continuous movement. This complemented the generous and supple movement initiated by his lower body and his effortless jumps.
Raw Materials is an important tool in the development of future dance makers. Since 2000 the program has supported more than one hundred new and emerging artists. In many ways it revives the Renaissance concept of the artisan and the apprentice, bringing to minds the painting The Baptism of Christ by Andrea del Verrocchio. Verrocchio allowed his young apprentice to paint the angel in the lower left corner of the painting. The apprentice was Leonardo da Vinci. Raw Material reinforces the principle that great art and artists are nurtured and developed.
In Photos: 1 &3) Coughing Consonant, Jumatatu Poe/ Idiosyncrazy Porductions 2)Trespass Trespass, Lauren Grace Bakst 3) 4&5) Umbilicus, Lauren Hale Dance 6) To Co-Exist Love/Forte A Collective 7&8) I Shatter, Aaron McGloin
Photography by Erika Latta