Philly PARD offered up a most tasty Mixed Grille last evening with the continuation of their popular dance series and the presentation of four delectable new works from a most formidable cast of Philadelphia dancers.
The evening started with the audience sitting in an intimate space with the arrival of trays of votive candles and even a birthday cake to the opening of Flicker, a solo performed by Bethany Formica with choreography from co-creators Silvana Cardell and Bethany Formica. As laughter filled the hall and the celebration of a birthday ensues, we are drawn in to the dichotomy of the celebration juxtaposed with an internal struggle. The votives are strewn across the floor as Bethany brilliantly dances between them. As she pauses and even balances just above the candles, one can feel the heat upon the skin and even perhaps the burn. The candles flicker and as the only light source, cast shadows, beautifully accenting the flawless movements executed by Bethany as she fully embodies her character as no one else can. With each passing between celebration and anguish, a series of candles are snuffed out. At times, Bethany is literally throwing herself at walls in an endless frenzy. From a sudden stillness, her body begins to writhers, at first playful, sexy and even taunting, then consumed with that emotional pain that transforms through her every limb. Finally, with a burst of light from flash paper touched to a candle that wafts to the floor, the audience is left in the still of darkness.
With a brief re-arranging of the audience to a proscenium setting, we are introduced to Blood Orange, choreographed by Guillermo Ortega Tanus and performed by Guillermo and Eun Jung Choi. This pas de deux opens with Guillermo serenading a Barbie-like and most elusive manikin Eun Jung, which offers both a comical and more serious exploration of love and attraction. Throughout the work, there is a play on stereotypes of both men and women utilizing dance, singing, monologues and even dialogs between the dancers. At one point, the dancers take on a more primal and animalistic interaction as they literally sniff each other on stage in a courtship ritual. Guillermo describes it best, “While easily falling into our sexual instinct, we desire to be a part of the life of someone significant. Blood Orange finds the tension between our instinctual impulses and intellectual selections.” Blood Orange was a masterful exploration of the absurdity of gender roles and stereotypes in our pursuit of that often elusive relationship.
The third presentation of the evening was Pieces of Movement Progressing, choreographed and performed by Leanne Grieger and Zach Svoboda. The physicality and abilities of these dancers is undeniable, as they each travel their own inner space in this exploration of movement. But the piece lacked direction and at times dragged, as we were exposed to far too many snippets of unrelated movement and an emotional rollercoaster that became lost. While there were moments of brilliance in the dialogues presented, the experience was too fleeting and generally lost in the lack of cohesion and direction.
The final presentation of the evening was ROBE, choreographed and performed by Megan Mazarick with dancer, Danielle Kinne. Megan brought to the stage a spectacle of visual imagery as hobbit-like, robed creatures entered carrying glowing lanterns. Once the lanterns were placed, these robed creatures took up meditative postures within the light, breaking open seed pods and blowing their contents throughout the space. As they danced, the fluffy white and silky seedlings swirled in the air moving with them in a dreamlike state. The piece ended all too abruptly, before we could completely settle in to the dream, as our earth dwellers once again took up their lanterns and lumbered in to the night.
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