Written by Sihan Wang
On the night of November 9th, I went to the Colwell Playhouse at the Krannert Center to see the November dance, there are four dance performances, “In Conversation”, “Antigamente”, “Tragedy, Ecstasy, Doom”, and “Picked Up Pieces”. The first impression those performances are not as abstract as I thought it would be.
The first performance “In Conversation” choreographs by Lehovec and Caldarella, start with a solo, then gradually come in more dancer, as I counted during the performance, each specific beats from the music introduces one more dancer. The performance I see consists of 12 dancers, music, and light from a different angle and different colors. The grouping of the dancers is pretty interesting, also significant to the piece because it helps to build the theme of the work, which I will discuss more in details below. The grouping consists of solo, duet, trio, and the whole group, it’s changing through the process, and I noticed the partner are also changing, I can tell because each dancer is wearing different color cloths. The grouping importantly addresses the theme of the piece, which is the conversation, and it’s indicating multiple conversations simultaneously, as the program notes provide, between dancers in a duet, between a group of dancers and space. The way I see it, each kind of grouping represents as a whole, such as the two people in every duet represent themselves as a whole, having a conversation with another group, for instance, a trio, which also represents themselves as a whole. And the conversation that each group are having with each other group is about their differences, one “whole” is talking to another “whole” about what they have in different, and also what they have in common, because big part of the movements between each group at some point of time is the same.
The music in this performance is called “Escalator”, performed by Bang on a Can All-Stars, the music shaped different entrance and exit of dancers really well, as the biggest contributor of the work. In the beginning, there is only one duet on stage, then gradually more dancer are emerging, their appearance each time are always accompanied with certain beats in the music. I would not say that the movement set specifically to the music because the music in this performance is just assisting the fluency of the dance.
The movement in this performance shares a lot of common elements with ballet, with very fluent contemporary modern dance movement; I would say that it’s almost like the kind of dance between ballet and modern dance. The movement is pretty sustained, similar movement through the whole performance. Movement is the biggest element that contributes to the theme of this work, we see both ballet and modern dance in the movement, the choreographers using these two important dance element to illustrate the conversation between ballet and modern dance, and I believe it’s also implying the conversation between the two choreographers of the work.
The overall structure of the work consists of duet and group dance, I noticed that the spatial pattern on stage is always about change in grouping, begin with solo, then different duet on the stage simultaneously, the group dance which every dancer shares the same movement at the same time, gradually change back to different duet, then change to one duet, and after that repeat the same structure over again.
The relationship of the dancers to each other and to the movement I believe in collaboration, each dancer is collaborating with each other to make the piece. Although there are conflicts among individual differences, dancers could overcome the differences and having a peacefully, and creatively conversation on the stage. I believe this piece represents a kind of mixture genre, the mixture of ballet and contemporary modern dance, I wouldn’t say that it’s idiosyncratic because the product of modern dance and ballet are as normal as the modern dance itself. The main theme in this work is the conversation; to me, this conversation is representing different people discuss their differences and at the same time discussing their common point, it’s a process of accept, accept good and bad, accept happy and sad, accept positive side and negative side. To me, the conversation that this work has illustrated is that with acceptance, everything could be peaceful no matter how different two individuals may be.
I think this piece is pretty successful in what I perceive it is trying to express, as I watched the piece, I felt the differences between each duet, and different duet is repeating the same movement, which to me is like different people making the same mistake, among the differences, there is also similarity, which is mostly the group dance in the piece, that’s when people have agreed with each other through conversation, as the final position respond to the curtain call. Overall my viewing experience is great, I have a good seat where I can clearly see the arrangement of the dancers, the background light help shape the atmosphere really well, which I wish we can have that option with our final performance. And finally, I really enjoyed this opportunity to watch a dance performance, it’s a good feeling to try to fathom what the choreographer trying to express in the piece through watching the performance.