photo credit: Frank Bicking
by Steven Weisz for The Dance Journal
Kun-Yang Lin’s home season at the Prince on Saturday, April 16th marked a new revitalized spirit for both the company and its choreographer. While the program highlighted three premieres, the company members and Mr. Lin enthusiastically signaled not only a sense of renewal, but also an excitement of moving forward in to new territory in their exploration of movement.
The opening number Dreamscape was accompanied by the music of Daniel Rhode and a live performance of violinist, Todd Reynolds. While the music added to the surreal landscape created in this piece, the placement and lighting of Mr. Reynolds became a bit of a distraction to watching the movement on stage. Nevertheless, the dancers garbed in all black, blending in to the dimly lit background, created an other-world experience with a continual shifting of bodies and shapes. This was highlighted in the duet that emerged with dancers Annielille Gavino Kollman and Brian Cordov, whose brilliant interplay was accentuated by their height differences, creating a continually shifting perspective as their shadows cast danced in sync on the scrim behind them. Following a second shorter duet featuring Mo Liu and Grace Stern, we were then once again transported in to the ether. They were eventually joined by the full cast in a powerful and striking syncopation of movement.
Between production numbers we were treated to a solo by Helen Hale, utilizing mask and glow in the dark tipped fingers and select body parts. Her movements, while punctuated quite different, seemed almost an extension of the previous piece, inviting us to come along in this transformative journey.
With the premiere of Moment/s, we are literally taken on a whirlwind of fleeting moments in our everyday existence, challenging our very notions of time, space, relationships, tension, stillness and discovery. The piece itself is divided in to two sets of “moments”. The first of these moments, opened to company members dressed in everyday attire walking briskly, to what we might experience as a daily rhythm. Eventually, the background noise gives way to a featured solo by Weiwei Ma. She treats us to a flowing, rich textured series of never ending movements that evoke both an emotional and spiritual quality, often the result of making choices and uncovering new meanings. Her movements challenge us in unexpected ways on this journey of self discovery.
With Moment II, we are presented with soloist, Evalina Cain Carbonell, who exuded both power and control in the “moments” she presented. I have seen Ms. Carbonell perform many times before, but in this piece, she embodied a new sense of both strength and freedom that made her performance riveting. Powerful movements with underlying tension and moments of strong quietness examined boundaries of our very existence. Eventually, the cast rejoins her on stage, moving in unison and coming together in a grounded stillness as they stare intently downward, leaving us to ponder these shared and fleeting moments.
We are once again treated to another Interlude between premieres. From between the curtains appeared Nikolai McKenzie, bare except for a black pair of shorts. His solo begins with minuscule movements of tension of varying muscle groups throughout his body. These are highlighted by lighting, designed by Stephen Petrilli, that literally created ripples, shadows and painted textures and layers, which accentuated his highly controlled movements. Mr. KcKenzie’s performance was a memorable highlight of the evening!
The last of the premieres before intermission was Vertigo, in which the KYL Dancers moved rapidly across the stage whirling, playing with and challenging the forces of gravity. Momentary pauses in the music left them intricately balanced and poised, then suddenly breaking in to repetitive phrasing and partnering as they once again succumbed to nature’s forces moving in unison.
The final piece of the evening was Autumn Skin, a 2016 revision of Mr. Lin’s choreography, which I had originally seen back in 2010 at the Painted Bride. As with most choreographers, no work is ever truly finished, but this re-make of what was already a very powerful piece was simply superb. Every action has a reaction; and we all share an interconnectedness that transcends our own physicality. In each of our actions, we affect our environment and those who surround us both seen and unseen. With Autumn Skin, Mr. Lin literally peels back the layers, allowing us to examine our own existence and its affect on others, and from the chaos find new meaning, perhaps just as he has done with his own company.
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