Week one of Festival 2016 at Jacob’s Pillow has come and gone. Already deep into week 2, it feels like the time to finally recap and reflect on the happenings of each day… before the details escape quickly from memory
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet
…may or may not be one of my new favorite companies. More contemporary than “ballet,” these dancers are some of the most versatile and unique movers. What’s more is that as a company, they all have an underlying aesthetic, and a way about them that can’t be explained only seen in ensemble performance. Their triple bill was entirely comprised of international choreographers, all with very precise approaches to content, story, technique, movement vocabulary, and even lighting and sound. While Cayetano Soto’s Humana Rojo beamed with quirky, sultry, playfulness, and Alejandro Cerrudo’s Silent Ghost created a breathtaking, wave-like atmosphere in the theater, Fernando Melo’s Re:play attacked gestural movement simply, as if veiwing snippets of memories left unstrung. I sat in my blue, velveteen plushy seat wondering how I could be transported to three such distinct locations within two short hours. “We don’t hire dancers, we hire people,” confirmed Executive Director Jean-Phillipe. Yup. Not only are these kick-ass dancers, they’re also some pretty kick-ass human beings. What a way to be.
Juan Siddi Flamenco Santa Fe
aka the sister company of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet. As the vibrant, loud, traditional flamenco company began to go under, the entrepenurial ASFB administration decided to loop the company under their wing. Now, the two share the same business department, the same marketing staff, and for the first time, were presented in the same venue, at the same time. Juan Siddi was hands down one of the fiercest people onstage that can simultaneously be sweet, gentle, and tender underneath it all. It was a pleasure to see his company perform, as well as get to know him at face value. Side note: flamenco actually has Indian dance roots. His Sunday master class was almost entirely learning coordinated hand and footwork – you heard it first here, folks, it ain’t easy.
- The Bang Group – velcro suits, pointe shoes, this crew has been around for over two decades, bringing some of the best in percussive dance. Such a crowd pleaser, probably the best season opener for this space. Not to mention the killer view.
- Emery LeCrone Dance – a contemporary ballet group that hasn’t even been alive a year – beautiful, meaningful work entitled NOW/HERE made me question the meaning behind partnering work in ballet – in her case, it held great value to the message of the work. Being alone, being without others by your side has perks and downfalls.
- Urban Bush Women – holy cow. The group is here this week and next as well as part of a larger Berkshire County dance engagement program. Clearly, this group has power, passion, and a rich culture surrounding what they do. I am inspired by their mission to “find your truth,” to be exactly who you are right here and right now, and use those truths to inform the movement. I’m anxious to see what they do with the students at The School.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of taking a master class with Danielle Agami, the artistic director of Ate9 dANCE cOMPANY from Los Angeles. A former Batsheva Dance Company member, Danielle taught a gaga workshop for an hour, but what it truly felt like was a meditation and a therapy. Improvisation is the main core of the class, and encourages you to be inside your own body, not judging or comparing but rather staying active – “50% energy” as she said, but not laziness. Toward the end, she used this analogy of our sensing body parts acting in different sensory ways…
Mouth as ears. Ears as noses. Eyes as tounges. Tounges as eyes… alivening not only our physical selves but also our imaginations. In a place where the days run together, where time passes faster than it ever has quite possibly anywhere else, these moments of engagement with myself, my mind, my body, was necessary.
Ten weeks. Three theaters. Over fifty companies. Here’s to Festival 2016, and the lessons, the people, the art, the experiences, the discoveries, the truths, and all that it has to offer.