Koresh ushers in Summer with Artist Showcase June ‘19

by Winfield Maben for The Dance Journal | photo credit Mike Hurwitz

This past weekend Koresh presented the June entry in its quarterly Artist Showcase series. The program consisted of ten works presented by artists from a diverse array of backgrounds, styles, and techniques, showcasing the range and scope of the Philadelphia dance community as a whole.

The evening opened with When I Was Done Dying, a piece by RiveraWorks which utilizes a strobe light to great effect in building an eerie and distorted atmosphere, not unlike a horror movie. The stop-motion effect created by the constant strobe shifts the audience’s perception of time as the smooth movement becomes jagged and rapid movements become instantaneous. The visceral intensity of the piece pulls the audience into its own dark world and doesn’t let go until the strobe slowly fades to complete darkness. This was followed by Cheryl Francaviglia’s Breaking Point, a solo featuring dancer Daniella Place. The movement in this work carries an elasticity to it; the dancer seems connected with the floor pushing and pulling against gravity in tandem with the surface beneath her. The work is tactile, grounded, and human and the performance given is especially impressive coming from such a young dancer.

The evening’s third piece was Nate and Heather by Nate Rosario and Heather McKeown. The piece utilizes spoken word alongside the movement to convey its narrative and themes to the audience. However, the movement and vocalizations are not entirely separate, but rather are married to each other both in terms of quality and melody. Rosario’s sharp and erratic speech patterns are accompanied by matching movement, which contrasts McKeown’s calm and smooth demeanor throughout. Largely concerned with time as a concept, the piece manages to convey a narrative without “telling” too much, a definite strength of the choreography.

Next came SAND by Jim Bunting, a duet which features sharp, contortion heavy movement as the two performers are drawn together by the choreography. The most telling part of this work is the action and reaction of the pair together, and how that contrasts with the work’s start in which one dancer had been performing alone. This provides a sense of identity to each performer and establishes them as separate entries entwined within the scope of the piece. Olivia Wood performed The Tide Rises… a solo which premiered at KYL/D’s Inhale/Exhale series this past May. In the solo, Wood works along a linear path, reaching and pulling to convey a longing or desire for something unseen. Movements spread outward only to be rapidly pulled back in which creates an atmosphere of suspense and surprise for the audience.

People Puddle presented Calm/Pond, a work which draws its movement from within, becoming deeply internal and intensely personal. The audience is given the sense that what they’re seeing on stage is humanity itself and the choreography is both introspective and self-reflective, laying bare the machinations of the soul. Following this was Hanging the Acts on the Clothing Racks by Melitta Parzyszek who portrays a distorted picture of humanity through her long extensions and complex contortions. The movement, while sharp, is not quite mechanical lending it an organic quality which enhances the distorted nature of the work itself.

Renea Rossi Dance showcased Still Seen, performed by Rossi herself. The piece utilizes to convey a sense of hesitation and reluctance, often appearing as if it were just on the verge of falling over, yet never quite getting there. Throughout, Rossi seems fixated with some external, unseen presence which separates her from the audience, focusing the work squarely on the relationship between herself, the chair, and whatever, or whoever holds her gaze. The penultimate work of the evening was Maybe Even Higher, performed by Artist House/Asya Zlatina + Dancers. This piece is structured as a series of vignettes, each featuring one or two performers who carried the piece’s playful tone in the way they interacted with each other as well as the audience. The movement, while contemporary, maintains its classical roots creating a fusion of past and present within the body of the dancers.

ChellieFig Crew: Part of Dance Arts Conservatory closed the evening’s program with Clasica and, as always, its refreshing and inspiring to see students at that age given the opportunity to perform in a real-world setting. It provides both experience and exposure to other artists for the students and overall seems to be a fantastic opportunity to get outside of the more academic setting they may be used to. The dancers seemed fully engaged and enthusiastic about the work and their performance provided high energy, exciting closure to a wonderful evening of dance.

About Winfield Maben

Winfield Maben is a Philadelphia based writer and dancer and an aspiring member of the greater Philadelphia area dance community. He graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2018 with a BA in Dance & English and has previously conducted several features for the Lehigh Valley Dance Exchange. He has worked with several established choreographers including Tiffany Mills, Sharon Vazanna, and Trinette Singleton and has performed in a variety of unique locations including Triskelion Arts (Brooklyn, NY), ArtisTree (Pomfret, VT), and the Brooklyn Bridge. Winfield aims to explore the art of dance through the multidisciplinary approach that was emphasized in his education, not only examining the physicality of a given work but also the intentionality and cultural impact of the work as a whole.

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