Klassic Contemporary Ballet Company on Love & Relations

by Gina Palumbo for The Dance Journal | photo credit: Mike Hurwitz

On September 7, Klassic Contemporary Ballet Company returned to the Performance Garage to partake in the Fringe Festival once more, accompanied by its youth company, KCBC II.  The title pieces of the evening, BUMP, AVIS, and WOOLVS AMONGST THE WILDFLOWERS, operated cohesively exploring the concepts of feminism and the limitations of human nature. The company is directed by Kimberly D. Landle, who was also in performance this night.

Upon arrival at the theater, I found myself questing for a seat in a panic, thinking I had been a late arrival. Dancers were scattered throughout the room, and those close to the seats donned beaked masks. Some dancers glanced at each other and invaded the other’s space to claim territory, while others gazed intently into the eyes of those watching them. The music was a whisper tied with a walk through a distant wilderness. There was no intention at the opening to create a shape or pattern, only an atmosphere where fear is palpable and one’s hair stands on end.

BUMP took shape with each of the distinct sections to follow being named after a phobia. With Haphe, taken from Greek new testament to mean bond or connection, there was a vocal soundtrack that was a call to the dancers to flock together. A soloist broke apart from the group, but found the flock soon after. Hands connected to create a long telescope for one dancer to peer through, and it was soon dissolved as another dancer picked it apart. Panto. short for pantomime brought a tap danced forth, whose shoes enhanced the undertone in the music, and allowed for the other dancers to ignore the sound and find a rhythm in the music he created with his feet.

Claustro was anxiety visualized. Two dancers drew a perimeter around another dancer with string and slowed and quickened their pace as needed. She searched high and low for an escape, but around and around they walked, using dissonant sounds, their gaze subjecting the one dancer to further isolation. She fluttered a hand over her heart, indicating distress as the dancers closed the string in on her.

From stage right came Multi, a duet primitive in manner. Two dancers crept along the floor, aware and yet unaware of one another’s presence. They moved as if they were finishing each other’s sentences, ending just shy in timing. A soloist followed in Glosso. She was covered in a platinum fabric, that when stretched, transformed her into a restless cocoon, a static lifeform.

Mono forced two dancers into nearness. They were linked by a sheer black veil that hindered their every move, making each dancer dependent on the other. Every movement affected the other as if connection increased sensitivity. Both embraced, and as dancer Greyson Gerdts grasped for freedom, Justin Gabriel Ballasy pulled her across the stage, still holding her as her arm stretched past him.

Chrono, Landle’s solo, was set to augmented soundscapes of old school casinos. While masked onlookers scathed at Landle and the accompanying music provoked anxiety, she continued to remain resilient. Alethe was the final piece of BUMP’S puzzle, and it exhibited Landle’s ability to give texture and breath to a large group of dancers, making many parts look like one living, breathing animal. At the close, the dancers removed their masks deliberately, and with relief.

Landle’s youth company, KCBC II, followed with AVIS, a title she said was born out of admiration of her students. It also originated from the symbolism of birds as a premonition to move ahead with caution. The young dancers weaved through the space with proprioception and ease, making cramped spaces look expansive. The experience was analogous to looking at a painting over and over again but seeing something new each time.

WOOLVS AMONGST THE WILDFLOWERS opened with a video projection showing women marching all over the world at different times and for different reasons. Landle used this to show that although strides have been made for women, the perception and inadequate treatment of women still remains uncivilized in some circles.

With Anyone & Everyone, Hailey McCormack entered in solitude, as other dancers appeared to walk right through her, while she moved through the space in search of a sense of self. The words of Irma Thompson flooded the room with “anyone who knows what love is will understand.”

Next came Fever with soloist Canyon Carroll, whose performance was art in motion. His delicate movement had ridges and grooves, yet was silky smooth in totality. There was a clear sense of decision making, but the movement unraveled naturally.

In What Is True Love?, Landle was “yearning”, and moved in a way that described a recent love. At the close, she took the photo frame that stood at center stage and turned it around, revealing what I thought would be a hunk. It turned out to be a fluffy dog. What Is True Love, you ask? True love is a fluffy dog. Love, in its true essence, knows no boundaries.

It is humanity’s understanding that it is best to keep what is familiar, but Landle’s choreography shows that without progress, humanity can live, but it will not thrive. She treats feminism as humanism, because she has the ability to take her story and his story, and say “me too.”

About Gina Palumbo

Gina Palumbo is a native of Philadelphia and has a passion for the arts. She has received her B.A. in Dance from DeSales University in Center Valley. She has been spending post-graduate life practicing ballet and yoga, as well as working in a library as an assistant. She resides in Northeast Philadelphia with her mother Joanne, her brother Anthony, her Nonna Carmela, and her pet bunny, Phyllis.

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