Photo of Caroline O’Brien by Thomas Weir
by Gregory King for The Dance Journal
Realizing the need for an outlet where artists could give back to the community, Culture Clutch’s co-founders Rachel Glashan Rupisan and Caroline O’Brien launched an initiative, providing such a platform to socially conscious artists. From a hefty submission pool, the Temple University Dance graduates carefully selected a diverse group of artists whose works were multi-dimensional in their exploration of “home” and its effect on the human spirit.
Opening the program was the multi media presentation title Home, images of performers Rebekah Rickards and Ronald Parkers flashed across the screen in interactions that gave insight into a relationship on the verge of possible ruins. Seemingly taking place in a home in disrepair, the facially emotionless duo found ways to connect…if only briefly. A moment with Parker sitting in a chair, holding a picture-less frame left me melancholy, as I watched Rickards climb through the frame, working to invade the empty prop as if she were begging to be a part of the picture.
As the artists peeled back the layers of their creative inquiry, elements of dependency, belonging, and trust were demonstrated in uniquely abstract ways.
Choreographed by Kayla Herbs, suspension in a free fall revealed Herbs and Sarah Braviak working to support each other as they created delicate structures that required balance and strength. Although there were some shaky executions, the acrobatic duo was constantly weight sharing even if their transitions weren’t always smooth.
In Under Maintenance, performer Alexis Dispenziere held her body low to the ground as she repeatedly gestured with her arm as if she were unscrewing a light bulb. In moments of whimsy, Dispenziere trembled her pelvis, allowing her costume to echo its vibration. There was a pull, constantly taking her towards the downstage left diagonal but the intention was unclear.
Mason Rosenthal’s prop heavy performance art piece, One Way Red, was a welcomed change of pace, adding much needed theatrics to the mostly movement-centered line up. While I believe the piece could have benefitted from further investigation to reveal its intention, Rosenthal was keen on taking the audience on a journey. Comedic in her delivery, performer Dani Solomon appeared to be in an apartment as she emptied her backpack onto a table creating animated stories with its contents. After her simulated puppet show, Solomon slid under the covers of a makeshift bed that was prepared downstage. In possibly the most successful scene in the piece, Solomon worked to free her restrained leg from a blanket. The caged leg appeared to be in attack mode, as she resourcefully worked to pull herself away from the blanket’s confinement.
Choreographed and danced by Evalina Carbonell, Fuerza showcased all the elusive qualities of its creator. With her back to the audience, Carbonell splayed her arms, reaching for something unseen. Circling her torso, she appeared to grow into the space before softening her elbow, withdrawing her arms towards her subtly fluttering body.
The pleated skirt she wore expanded with each battement as she used her legs to carve soft curves in the space between herself and those watching.
She performed a gestural phrase as a precursor to her duet with the floor.
Standing, Carbonell was precise, grounded……solid. But on the ground, she exuded an inexplicable comfort, sliding with ease, organically balancing the sturdy pulse of the accompanying musical compositions of Dustin O’Halloran and Rodrigo Solo. Never a moment of jerky transition, it was as if Carbonell controlled the floor. Watching it was apparent that the floor breathed with her – it was familiar, it was home.
Reminiscent of other choreography showcases saturating the Philadelphia dance scene, I found myself wondering what could have set Social Sessions apart from the others. Maybe an outdoor space, allowing the works to become an extension of the environment would have helped the audience make a stronger connection to the arts and community.
A great vehicle for audience and community engagement, Social Sessions serves a greater purpose, as the proceeds will aid in the building of homes through Habitat for Humanity.
- Dear Philadelphia…. Next Round On Me! - August 17, 2016
- Talia Mason’s Onion Dances: Dancing Memories - July 5, 2016
- A Response to Beyond Dance Company … In Kind - June 30, 2016
- Review: Beyond Dance Company: Not a Girl… Not Yet a Woman - June 28, 2016
- Philadanco II and Pennsylvania Ballet II – 2 gether we Dance - June 21, 2016
- Birds on a Wire Dance Theatre’s HATCH – Words On A Strip of Paper - June 12, 2016
- The Social Sessions: Chapter 1 – Building Homes…..Literally - June 5, 2016
- Saayuja, The Merging – A Celebratory Blend of Bharatanatyam and Carnatic Music - May 10, 2016
- Lela Aisha Jones | Flyground : Native Portals Keeping The Conversation Going - May 5, 2016
- Philadanco’s Global Artistry: Four Choreographers, One Aesthetic - April 23, 2016