Mijkalena (Mijka) Smith, dancer; Sonali Singh, bassoon & voice; Michnari Robinson, brasses; and Aaron Pond, horn, voice, flutes, and little instruments, make up the Mijkalena Smith Quartet. Lively and exuberant, their work together softens and crescendos with presence alongside one another. Mijkalena is the first to appear in the room, softly stepping out onto the gray marley floor of Kung-Yang Lin/Dancers’ Studio. Her eye contact finds the audience and lingers, as the white wall behind her begins to erupt with sound as if it were a musician itself. With one loud smack on the wall, Mijkalena coaxes Sonali, Michnari, and Aaron out from behind it.
This use of space is exciting; an uncovering and unfolding of choreographies inside of (what I assume is) an improvisational score, grounds the often-buoyant soundscape. Moving through somber, dynamic, and spirited sonic environments, Mijkalena engages gestures that emerge through her movement: a forearm grazing her forehead and tracing down her neck until it turns into balance on one leg, grounding her standing leg a few feet below the floor. Until it turns into near-stillness, lying on the floor, only her ribcage and chest moving from the expansion of her lungs. Until it turns into movement that resembles the stretching of a rubber band: stretchy and with tense weightedness.
Until it turns into, describes much of this 30-minute premiere. It’s palpable, the way that each member of The Mijkalena Quartet listens to one another. As decisions are made within the score, the audience watches and listens to relationships unfold between sound, dance, gesture, and perception. Circulatory leading and following takes hold: Mijkalena finds herself in body percussion alongside the musicians, and they listen, Mijkalena listens, the musicians listen, and this way of listening breathes life into the room.