It’s finally time. After weeks of preparation, the performance is upon you. Seats are filled, audiences have glanced over the program. You’re waiting in the wings listening to the chatter mere yards from you. Palms sweaty, heart thumping. And then, silence. Lights go dark. Dancers take places… and there are those few moments of anticipation. The audience waits patiently for the first glimpses of movement, while the dancers stand motionless, moving only once their cue occurs. It’s in these moments that I find the most wonder, the most gratitude, the most strength. While completely silent, there is a reverberation off the walls, an energy that charges both mover and viewer. A humming, a pulse. It’s magic.
Adam H. Weinert/Monument
Adam’s research and unique approach to this performance was entirely evident. After years of interpreting photographs, video clips, and labanotation from the 1930’s, this thirty-something successfully revived six short works by Ted Shawn, Jose Limon, and Doris Humphrey. For those of you not as familiar with the history of dance, Ted Shawn was the founder of this place we call Jacob’s Pillow Dance, and mentor to Doris Humphrey. Jose Limon was two dance generations removed from Mr. Shawn, but still within the same realm nonetheless. The Juilliard grad’s evening of work was a combination of these historic, thoughtful revivals, in addition to a new work, created during his time of research, a response, an echo of that which was created some eighty years ago, perhaps right here in this very location. Altogether, MONUMENT was what the New York Times referred to as “expressively enigmatic, structurally unresolved, stylistically inconsistent — is impressive, strange, a puzzle you want to solve, a social order changing before your eyes.” Read the rave review here.
Michelle Dorrance and her crew really hit the nail on the head with this one. ETM: Double Down is a fascinating, jaw-dropping percussive work. Integrating performers that are equal parts musician and dancer, I felt both visually and audibly satisfied after the hour and a half jam that happened in the Ted Shawn Theatre. My favorite was the rendition of Bon Iver’s “Wash.” – an ensemble of men and women tapped and moved through space to this familiar tune, while a breathtaking singer hummed through the lullaby of lyrics. Together with a looping technology invented using raised wooden platforms, the entire space swirled with rhythm and soul.
Every single person needs to be exposed to this performance. Not only are the dancers skilled and entirely experts in the craft of “flex,” they feel the performance to the core. Even down to the facial expression, every piece of the movers’ bodies is effected by the emotion felt, the journeys taken. In the midst of what our world is going through today, the black lives matter movement… more works like this need to be seen, be talked about, be addressed. The fact that art can talk about these ideas so head-on makes me excited to continue a life in this field.
- RAWdance – the brilliant artistic director duo performed a work that was a compilation of seven short duets created by seven west coast artists. The bay area natives said their goal was to introduce our audience to a wide range of work, by entirely different personalities in the field. It was a masterful approach to this unconventional performance setting. Two thumbs up.
- Soul Steps w/ Youth Alive! – this stepping company partnered with a local group of young kids from Pittsfield to create an evening of percussive fun.
- FJK Dance – Inside/In, due to rain. A ballroom dance performance complete with glittery costumes and fierce, firey partnering work.
- Kilowatt Dance Theater – a swing dance troupe from NYC. Emcee experience! Got to share in this performance with almost 1,000 other attendees.
- Elisabeth Motley/Motley Dance – an exploration of quantum physics, got to spend the afternoon taking and improvisation class from her on the Inside/Out stage. Thoughtful, well researched, experimental contemporary dance.
- Loren, Royse & Co. – acrobatics meets dance meets physical comedy. A U.S. world champion in wheel gymnastics and a broadway dancer (currently in Fiddler on the Roof) came together to create this evening of dance and cyr wheel movement. So impressive. Emcee experience number four!
- Pillow Talk: Lois Greenfield’s Moving Still – hearing the artist speak in Blake’s Barn, among the amazing photographs that she spoke about. Pretty special.
- Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion – Finally, I wandered back to the archives, where Kyle’s first Pillow performance from 2010 awaited. I was able to see three works by the budding artist – two group works and a solo piece. I appreciated his attention to music, and persistence in speaking about otherwise silenced topics.
And now, our final intern meeting, our final cast party, the last week of the festival is upon us and has emerged just as quickly as it all started. Two weeks from today will begin the start of the fall – a new adventure without the structure of school, the worries of classes. Just lex, the Berkshires, and some dance. Let’s do this.