Gary W. Jeter II
photo by Sharen Bradford

Gary W. Jeter II’s Filaments

Gary W. Jeter II presented Filaments at the Performance Garage on April 7, 2024. This captivating performance showcased a talented ensemble including Jeter, Jayson Britton, Andrea Yorita, Aliyah Clay, Robert Burden, Alexis Britford, Mikaela Fenton and Mark Caserta. Filaments explored ideas related to outer space human connection. A broad topic that seeks to hold ourselves accountable for the way we view ourselves and the intersecting journey’s of others.

Costumes were used to clearly differentiate between acts, with the first adorning dancers in matching chocolate brown shorts and ballet shoes that matched each of their skin tones. This matched the more moody feeling of the first act. In the second act, dancers were dressed in a monochrome fashion, paired off by gender wearing blue, orange and gray. This offered a lighter, fresh take on the subject matter.

Act I titled ‘The Work’ began with dancers entering the space leisurely walking to the tempo of “Me and Your Mama” by Childish Gambino. The deep soulful bass of the music is emphasized by moody lights and the powerful stage presence of the dancers as more bodies enter into the space. Individually, dancers swiftly break into complex phrase work that is so quick and effortless you might miss it if you blinked. In typical Jeter fashion, the movement was succinctly executed with razor sharp precision.

Alternating between slow and fast paced tempo and utilizing repetition until they joined together in synchronicity kept me on the edge of my seat. This strong motif is established and revisited throughout the performance. A duet emerges from the group, clearly conveying the idea of “what seems to be chaos, rallies into unconscious structure” through these connections. While rooted in strong classical ballet technique, the choreography also leaned on modern contemporary elements. Swirling hips in figure eight formations and rolling shoulders offered a peek into house dance inspirations.

Strong partner work through well-matched duets is shown throughout the works. Deeply engaged in self expression and human connection, duets featuring Jeter with Caserta and Fenton reminded me of the solar system as they swirled and orbited around the theater. Gentle touches on the leg or shoulder would influence a new movement pattern. Keeping up with themes inspired by the solar system, these interactions made me think of Newton’s Law where for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Explosive high leg extensions through various battements, développés and rond de jambes received immediate high praises from audience members. Similarly, intricately delicate lifts that seemed to appear with very little prep was a crowd favorite.

Filaments offered insight into the beauty of deeply interconnected human interactions. Discovering new ways to join together in harmony, it can be the little tiny threads of similarity that bring us together. What we do individually has a profound impact not only on the people immediately around us, but in a larger context around the world and into the cosmos. There was a feeling that even after the performance ended there was something that remained. It was as if there were atoms left swirling in the air. Conveniently, the solar eclipse was set to visit Philadelphia the following day, wonderfully setting the stage for life imitating art.

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