By Debra Danese for The Dance Journal | photo credit Rob Li
KYL/D Artistic Director, Kun-Yang Lin, wanted to do something different for his company’s fall dance concert. For the first time, he gave three of his senior dancers the opportunity to create and present their own work alongside his own. The featured dance makers- Liu Mo, Evalina “Wally” Carbonell, and Weiwei Ma- have all been with the company for over four years. The company is celebrating its 10th anniversary and Lin said these three artists have richly contributed to the company’s journey. Lin spoke before the performance and said his intention was to plant the seed of creativity within his dancers, and give them a voice to share with audiences through their choreography.
Lin’s words segued perfectly into Seed, the opening piece by Carbonell. The work was well structured around the theme of a seed’s growth. It started with the dancers’ all executing the same basic movements. The simplicity and repetition of the opening phrases were executed with a sense of urgency and intensity. The effect was powerful. It was a perfect example that choreography does not always have to be filled with the big, fancy tricks often preferred by many dance students and companies today. The dance utilized the floor and had a sense of groundedness before building into bigger, more aggressive movements. Music by Hauschka added to the dynamic life force of the piece.
Mo Liu’s Mianju (Mask) took a look at city-life inspired by his recent trip to Shanghai. He used dancers Grace Stern, Frankie Markocki, Kyan Namazi and Barbara Craig to illustrate how much we can fail to see because of our mindlessness. Liu’s opening choreography was also effective while being unassuming and pedestrian in nature. The dancers each walked towards the audience before stopping with an exaggerated facial expression- their mask. This seemed to set the tone for their character and how they went about performing the rest of the piece. The four artists blended well in both movement and performance quality. Liu utilized different genres to fuse his choreography and the overall result was engaging.
For Fan, Weiwei Ma focused on the use of different Chinese fans to discover new movement possibilities. Like the previous works, Ma’s opening sequence was commanding, but also visually captivating. Dancers Grace Stern, Keila Perez Vega, and Annielille Gavino gave a dramatic performance. They were dimly lit and the sounds of their fans opening and closing were used in lieu of music. This was the most effective use of the fans. The second movement was a duet that did not quite come together choreographically and a dropped fan during an entrance broke the flow. The third movement showcased the strength and agility of the male company members. It incorporated intriguing tableaus but the large fan made some of the choreography look cumbersome.
The program closed with Kun-Yang Lin’s Arrival. This was revised from his 2015 work, Home/9th St. I loved Lin’s full use of the stage and space. I found the characters and story challenging to follow but the company was showcased here as truly gifted technicians and performers.