Melissa Rector is revealed sitting center stage as the lights come up on the Koresh Dance Company’s new “Muse,” which premiered last Thursday, June 2, at the Suzanne Roberts Theater. Accompanied by a recording of John Hurt singing the gospel classic “I Shall Not Be Moved,” Rector remains motionless — until the song ends and she collapses sideways onto the floor. She then begins moving, performing a solo that demonstrates her passion and extreme flexibility. The company’s men enter separately to peer at her, and the last of them presents her with a single rose.
Ronen Koresh, the company’s artistic director and founder, created “Muse” as a tribute to Rector, who has been a core member of the group since its inception in 1991. Early in the piece, the company’s male dancers appear to represent the choreographer Koresh himself, fragmented into five separate bodies. They attempt to entice Rector to join them as she dances amongst them, even passing her bodily from one to another around in a circle. She doesn’t commit to any one of them — yet they remain in her thrall.
From here, the evening-length dance continues to explore the relationship between artist and muse through a wide range of choreographic metaphors. There is a wonderful duet between Rector and Micah Geyer, for instance, where he strives to capture her essence, and then four more waltzing couples join them, creating a kaleidoscopic vision of the primary twosome.
Some of the metaphors are intimate, such as separate solos in which Callie Hoctor embodies an unmolded creative idea and Robert Tyler struggles to find artistic purpose. Other metaphors are larger in scope, where the company’s full ensemble divides into male versus female contingents, sizing each other up and declaring their antagonistic intentions.
The nature of creativity is explored repeatedly through the lens of a romantic relationship between a man and woman. In an angular duet, Sarah Shaulis and Kevan Sullivan give everything to each other, all the while holding their arms protectively over their vital organs. In a second duet for Rector and Geyer, the relationship becomes mysterious, deepening as they go into a morphing, fluid mode.
Peter Jakubowski created the dramatic lighting design for “Muse.” His use of dim filtered lighting, dark projections, streaming beams of light, and bursts of color shifts with the changing sections of the dance. The score features music by John Levis and Sage DeAgro-Ruopp: The lone tune of a piano alternates with layered build-ups of percussion, synthesizer, and voice.
Koresh’s inventive choreography encompasses a range of qualities: from impish prancing to clever floor moves to powerful shifts between control and abandonment. The company’s dancers cast a spell with their weighted, earthy dancing. We hear their feet stamping on the floor and their heavy breathing. In addition to the choreography, Koresh designed the understated costumes for the production.
The dance’s concluding section, subtitled “Lev” (Hebrew for “heart”), features Paige Devitt entrancing Devon Larcher into a state of trusting harmony. Their profound relationship as muse and artist emerges organically, as if it cannot be summoned by force of will. The duo is joined by the full company in a rousing finale — its hypnotic effect intensified by the pounding music and repetitive unison dancing. It’s a powerful moment of release from the demonstrated gut-wrenching effort of artistic creation.
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