States of Matter explores the boundaries of contemporary ballet, Sept 5-6

States of Matter is an evening of new work by choreographers and dance artists exploring the boundaries of contemporary ballet.  Laura Katz Rizzo, Blythe Smith and Bryan Koulman are choreographers working with ballet vocabulary in innovative ways, each of them discovering ways to both uphold and challenge the traditions of the discipline. Their work creates bridges that reach across many of the boundaries that lie between communities of dancers as well as in our larger society. This work brings together component parts of the modern dance and ballet communities, the academic/university and professional dance communities, and the fine art and activist communities.

Blythe Smith will present eUSa, a compilation of the experiences of life and finding a sense of home in each experience. It examines the walks of life through raw undertones of beauty and grace in the organically structured sense of movement. It reaches to the high moments of community and support, the low valleys that we often walk, but yet not alone. It is inspired by the notes of Yann Tiersen and connects to his own place of home and the beauty he sees there. It is a dedication to my family, my friends, my David, and my Lord and Savior. Smith will also show Simple Joys, a site specific piece that was originally commissioned to be set around Daniel Clayman’s instillation at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton,NJ. It was a 40 foot drapery of glass made from individual tiles. The piece plays on finding colored light through glass and finds simplicity in movement and the joy that is evoked from this.

Laura Katz Rizzo will present 3 sections of Elemental Frequencies, a suite of dances evoking and embodying the universal elements of air, earth, fire and water. The dances use hybrid gestural, minimalist ballet-based movement vocabulary to create tone poems that reflect the distinctive qualities and characteristics of each element. The dances use formal frameworks like repetition, accumulation and acceleration as a foundation for generating different energetic states or frequencies. The dance thus embodies the dynamics, qualities and vibrations of these states of matter, reflecting the beautiful and complex textures and patterns that exist within multidimensional space.

Hollow explores the ideas of spell-casting and sacred geometry as frameworks for the creative choreographic process. It evokes the element of air.  The first half (Invocation of Air) is a binding ritual for 5 women, and the second half of the ballet (STUDYOFLIGHT) is based upon the flight patterns of birds. Ras Tonem Berakah: E= MC 2, is meditation upon the spark of creation. The dance, begun during Katz Rizzo’s residency at the Iron Factory last summer, begins with a simple gestural evocation of cubic or rectangular geometry, unfolding gradually into a warm dance that exudes robust, vibrating energy. As the dance unfolds, the performers create a five dimensional space, in which the kaleidoscopic choreography constructs a multidimensional topography. The movement is based upon flat planes that through repetition and variation spin out into fractal-like designs which are also echoed in the music by Bach.

Tetrahedra represents the fire element, utilizing the architectural framework of the tetrahedron and expressing the essence of Tejas, or all transformative heat and light energy. The dance evokes warmth, drive and the power of transformation.

Bryan Koulman will present 3 pieces: ‘Treadmill’ is a virtuosic duet depicting a competitive, yet intimate relationship set to a constantly shifting drum score.  ‘Troubled Sleep’, performed to the 4th string quartet of Bela Bartok, is a black comedy for 3 dancers in which a children’s slumber party morphs into a crime scene culminating with a grisly murder on a futon.  ‘Icarus’, performed by a Philadelphia favorite Nikolai McKenzie, retells the ancient Greek fable of departure set to the searing piano music of Tchaikovsky.

States of Matter
September 5th  & 6th at 7:30 pm
Conwell Dance Theatre, Temple University, 1801 N Broad St, 5th floor, Philadelphia
$20.00, through fringe box office or at the door with credit card (no cash accepted at the door)
https://fringearts.com/event/states-of-matter/
***Reception following Thursday night’s performance.

Photo credit: Brian Mengini