By Kat Richter for The Dance Journal
Photos by Valerie Giacobbe
Under the direction of Sarah Mitteldorf, the artists of Kaleid Theatre braved Friday night’s snow storm for an eclectic cabaret at The Performance Garage this past weekend. The show featured twelve acts ranging from Irish step dance to Bulgarian folk music, complete with card tricks and balloon animals courtesy of the evening’s Master of Ceremonies Ben Grinberg. Some worked better than others—Mitteldorf’s hornpipe, for example, felt rushed and unfinished despite her evident training—but all in all, it was a charming display of talent and new ideas.
Wearing a pair of maroon boxer briefs, 17-year old Aaron Berman performed a dark solo on the lyra, a large hoop suspended from the ceiling. Like a spider spinning a web, he wound his long limbs around the hoop, balancing in all sorts of twisted positions as he swung through the air. In one particularly exciting moment, he ran towards the audience then dove backwards into the hoop just in time to keep from falling off the edge of the stage. His transitions were a bit awkward—like Olympic gymnasts who struggle with the “dance steps” between their aerials—but he showed enormous promise for such a young performer.
Josie Learns to Love Again performed by Nina Giacobbe comprised a humorous mash up of red-nose clowning and creative aerial work. Charge, performed by Lauren Rile Smith and Lee Ane Pompillo of Tangle Movement Arts was a duet turned trio thanks to the addition of a single lyra. Utilizing both counterbalance and momentum, the two women swung across the stage, contorting their bodies to fit within the round hoop. Their performance energy and costumes were mismatched, making the work feel somehow not quite there yet, but the premise was intriguing in its chosen medium.
Samantha Rose Schwab and Laurie Lenox both performed solos on the rope, an aerial device that is exactly what the name would suggest: a long piece of rope suspended from the ceiling. Schwab’s The levee, breaking was inspired by the tragedy of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. She wore waders and trekked across the stage, as if crawling through debris, then began to climb the rope utilizing different configurations to support her weight as she pitched forward, slithering head first towards the floor. Lenox’s solo was more whimsical. Using her hands to wind the rope around her waist, she hung suspended for a moment than unraveled like a spool of thread dropped from the air.
A duet performed by dancers Kimya Imani Jackson and Bianca Frisby, Pre/Post combined text and pedestrian movements into an elegant commentary on after effects of collision, the evening’s theme. I was sad that it ended so quickly. Susan Gates solo, Addiction, was equally well-thought out. She repeated the same phrase once, twice, then a third time with greater difficulty each round symbolizing the loss of a struggle with adduction. Her jumps became steps, then just a lilt, then finally a collapse to the floor.
Bounce, the final work of the evening, featured Rachel O’Hanlon-Rodriguez, Schwab and Giacobbe under Mitteldorf’s direction. The piece combined movement and text to tell stories of childhood parties, study abroad and the neglected ecosystems of New Orleans using the common thread of falling and bouncing to connect the disparate narratives. The stories were somewhat self-indulgent but the use of pantomime and partnering made them come alive in unexpected ways.
Kat Richter is a freelance writer and teaching artist. She holds an MA in Dance Anthropology and is also the co-founder of The Lady Hoofers, Philadelphia’s only all-female tap company. Her work can be found at www.katrichter.com.
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