by Winfield Mabin for The Dance Journal | photo credit: Mike Hurwitz
On Friday night Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers presented their 39th InHale Performance Series, a quarterly showcase of selected works by various local movement artists. Eleven works were displayed throughout the evening; highlighting a diverse array of talent which reached beyond the bounds of traditional concert dance and explored just what becomes possible when one is encouraged to experiment with performative movement.
The general vibe upon entering KYL/D’s CHI Movement Arts Center was immediately warm and welcoming. Audience members were asked to remove their shoes before entering the space and, once inside, were greeted by a stage full of performers warming up and chatting amongst each other while the audience settled in. This presents a comforting atmosphere which draws the audience into this informal showing of work in an intimate and friendly way, whether any particular audience member is friends with a performer or not. The tone set by these first several moments in the space settled the audience into their seats for an evening of varied performance and communal support.
Evalina “Wally” Carbonell’s Hive kickstarted the evening with movement that set high energy twitch grounded focused movement against grounded floorwork to great effect. Jim Bunting’s Secrets showcased an intense conflict of internal versus external via Katherine Corbette’s performance which fused movement evocative of a marionette with a flow which pushed and pulled towards the audience; simultaneously rejecting their presence and beckoning them inward.
Carinosa by Annielille Gavino and Malaya Cassandra explored the idea of lineage and ancestry and the generational effects of imperialism by placing a maternal, mentorial relationship between an adult and child on the stage. Katherine Kiefer Stark’s Free to Be was an eclectic and wildly entertaining piece which was at times an 80’s style aerobic workout, at times a stand-up comedy routine, and at times an exploration of identity and the concept of self, all of which was completely sold by Stark’s endearing and genuine performance. The first act concluded with ARIA by Rebecca Malcolm-Naib and performed by Amy Novinsky and Asya Zlatina which combined the stylings of classical ballet with the flow and upper body circulations of a modern or contemporary piece in a way that was remained evocative of the court dances from which ballet was derived.
The second act was initiated by Se hace camino al andar which was performed by choreographer Mariadela Belle Alvarez and dancers Sanchel Brown, Leilani Chirino, and Ani Gavino. The piece began with grounded, naturalistic crawling but quickly transitioned to a more up-tempo performance with each dancer which granted each performer a unique personality and identity through the solos they performed. The next piece, Holding Belly, shook things up a bit as American Grl Boi (Lu Donovan) invited the audience onto the stage for the duration of the piece. This lent voyeuristic, personal atmosphere to the work, compounded upon by the diegetic lighting provided by several lamps strewn about the space. The piece explored gender identity, highlighting longing, sacrifice, and the emotional aspects of struggling with the gender you were assigned at birth through subtle yet effective pedestrian movement and masterful use of props (including the performer’s shirt, shredded to pieces to form a beard).
Frayed Ends by Thomas/Ortiz Dance was a duet that showcased a romance in its entirety instead of focusing on solely positive or negative aspects. It utilized the sensibilities of a classical pas de deux as well as a pushing and pulling motif between the two performers in order to provide a refreshing take on the complexities of romance. Taking a darker turn, Leah Moriarty’s Take the Sound of the Room Breathing was an introspective exploration of the self which built to an explosion of movement and sound near the end. Set to an ominous, repetitive track by Yoko Ono, I can only describe the performance as a cerebral discordia which managed to unsettle and delight in equal measures.
Closing out the evening was Jesse Factor’s Marthanany: The Spectre-Acle which left me speechless in the way it not only subverted my expectations but then subverted the expectations set by the initial subversion. It rode the line between tribute for and a parody of the late Martha Graham, beginning as a nearly identical recreation of her Lamentations before morphing into a bombastic lip sync performance, and again into a striptease. However, through all the insanity, Factor’s physique and technique shone through making it not only an effective piece of theatrical comedy but also a kinesthetically enrapturing work of dance. It left the audience in an uproar and was the perfect finale to the evening.
While writing this review what stands out to me is the incredible diversity put on display at InHale. While often “modern dance” or concert dance, in general, can feel homogenized, being able to see artists working from so many different backgrounds and achieving such an eclectic array of works provides insight into the incredible variance in styles and vision that can fly under the radar if you aren’t keeping your eyes open. KYL/D’s InHale not only welcomed me into the fold but treated me to a wonderfully diverse evening of dance; one which invited me to consider the community at large and what I can do to diversify my support for the art I love.