by Gregory King, Visiting Assistant Professor of Dance, Swarthmore College for The Dance Journal
On Friday March 27th, Waheed Works founder Tommie-Waheed Evans, held an open rehearsal to preview his newest work Botch. Scheduled to premiere at the Painted Bride on April 10h, Botch is the first official Waheed Work to grace the main stage of the Bride and is said to be the culmination of an ongoing exploration of lightness and darkness.
I watched as eleven dancers worked to envelope the space created by Evans. Abled and proficient, these dancers hailed from BalletX, Philadanco, Eleone Dance Theatre, and the University of the Arts, and worked to shed light (no pun intended) on Evans’ vision.
Nebulous and fragmented, some artistic decisions are still being investigated. From my experience, I know that some choreographers can be very process oriented and rehearse up until opening night to fine tune their work, so I released my concerns and replaced them with skeptical optimism.
While Evans is still in the investigatory phase, I couldn’t help but wonder if two weeks will be enough time to shape Botch. Fortunately, Evans is no novice when it comes to creating work with the choreographic success of pieces like Nearing Light, Phoenix, and Love and Light Project Part One.
A former member of Philadanco, Evans’ history has given him access to the aesthetics of many modern dance choreographers including Tally Beatty, Milton Myers, Louis Johnson and Christopher Huggins to name a few. So it’s no wonder Evans’ vocabulary is deeply rooted in a classical ballet aesthetic blended with modern sensibilities and jazz influences. With such a rich textured familiar framework, I searched to find Evans’ voice in this all too recognizable language.
A fast paced, multi-grouped, theatrical display of virtuosic bodies, Botch may benefit from editing, which I have no doubt he will address in the weeks to come. Unsure of costumes and still working on the soundscape, Evans compares his process to a writer who does many drafts before the final product.
He takes a collaborative approach to creating Botch by allowing his dancers to immerse themselves within the context of the piece and apply it to their own lives. While there are still unanswered questions, Botch promises to deliver incredible dancers who will sink their teeth into the nuances of every step.
I’m not sure what Evans had in mind when he founded Waheed Works, but this group is a welcomed addition to the Philadelphia dance scene and Botch is a much anticipated work.
Counting down to the premiere, I can’t wait to see how Evans will wrap up this package and have it delivered.
Botch comes to Painted Bride Art Center on April 10th and 11th at 8pm.
Tickets on sale now—$25 advance, $30 day of show. Painted Bride Members receive 30% off their purchase.
Log on to paintedbride.org