Hello, Baltimore!

Hello, Baltimore! I’m Shianne, a local professional dancer and dance writer. I began writing as a pre-teen, and actually have a book published that I wrote when I was 12, but let’s focus on dance. I began dancing at age 3 and have been dancing since! I attended Towson University for dance performance and dance education, from the class of 2016. I enjoy watching dance, teaching dance, talking about dance, dancing, you name it – anything dance related, I love! I’ll be posting my dance reviews for dance companies in Baltimore and share my love for them. Thanks for stopping on my page! ❤️

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Artists Are Affected: A Reflection on Readjusting With Chitra Subramanian

Chitra Subramanian is the founder of chitra.MOVES, which she created in 2018. This collective of diverse female dancers performs a fusion of hip hop and Indian dance. Based in Washington D.C., chitra.MOVES has performed in many venues in the Northeast and presented its first evening-length work, Temple, in December 2019. Subramanian currently works as a manager at Lee Montessori Public Charter School.

Tell me about chitra.MOVES.

This collective has its roots in Cleveland. Before I moved to Cleveland, dance was a hobby – I ran a non-profit in D.C. and that occupied most of my time. In Ohio, I didn’t have a traditional job, so I focused on exploring areas that I previously didn’t have time for. I was creating and figuring out what my movement style was – drawing from those inspirations that surrounded me. I was classically trained in Bharartanatyum, an ancient Indian dance form, for most of my life and began seriously training in hip hop after college. I thought now that I have this time to focus on dance, let me go all the way. The collective started in Ohio with dancers not only from Cleveland, but from Pittsburgh, my hometown. I was also training with the street dance community in Cleveland, which has roots in krump and popping.

I had the opportunity to be considered for a global Bollywood dance competition in New York. Our work was selected and we made it to the finals! I’m still tied to those original dancers. When I came to D.C., I wanted to continue this idea of bringing dancers, specifically women, together who have different backgrounds not only in dance, but beyond.

How has COVID-19 affected your collective or your art?

Everyone is readjusting as much as possible. I work with a range of people, some of them dance full time and some juggle many things. Personally, this has been a good opportunity for me to step back, re-plan, and reflect on how I want to move forward. I’ve been thinking of ways to focus on things that I didn’t have time to before, specifically my branding, so I’m working on that.

I’ve also been taking [online] classes from different people that I respect. I’ve been grateful that I have this opportunity because I do have a flexible job. But, I know many of my dancers are teaching studio classes online and feeling overwhelmed with adjusting. I think the overall energy has been, “We just got to keep it moving,” which has been cool to see. My next goal is to explore how I can start teaching again.

Did chitra.MOVES have to cancel or postpone any performances due to COVID-19?

There were teaching opportunities in the summer that aren’t going to happen. I was really hoping to participate in something in July, but at this point, I highly doubt it’s going to happen.

I have to say, this whole thing happened at a time where nothing was formally lined up for my company. August to February was crazy busy – after February, everything was calm. That’s when [the pandemic] hit, which is weird. I was working on a second presentation of Temple at Joe’s [Movement Emporium] for November, but we might need to push that back to spring 2021.

What are you learning right now as a dancer/artist by being socially distant?

It’s a new kind of discipline we must have. My discipline is doing some kind of movement two hours daily. It may be in different sections of the day because I have two young girls [seven and five years old]. I’m pushing myself to practice the aspects I want to grow in. I’m being organized about that – so if I’m taking a class consistently, I’m being mindful in how I’m taking that information, applying, and practicing it meaningfully. Now that we’ve been home for a while, I’m back to creating again. It’s fun that we can all learn and grow together through this virtual space. It’s also nice having the ease of going to class without having to drive; of course, nothing can replace the face to face.

How do you keep yourself uplifted during this time?

Overall, I do feel a sense of gratitude – it’s like a new family adventure for us, although we do have our ups and downs. I just want to throw everyone out of the house sometimes! From a parenting perspective, I use my experience from running M.O.M.I.E.S [a non-profit social justice education organization for children] and teach my girls “The Great Person Series.” We learn about one person in history for two weeks with hands-on activities. I’m uplifted because I get to be creative and [my children] are learning interesting concepts that they wouldn’t get otherwise. We just finished learning about Nikki Giovanni.

On the dance side, being able to learn from people is uplifting. I didn’t necessarily have the time and energy for all of this before. I have Zoom dance sessions with people I respect and we play around together. There’s been no pressure. It’s not ideal, but it’s been nice.

What do you hope the dance world will acknowledge or change by the end of pandemic?

It’s important to think about what support for artists really is. [The pandemic] has hit everyone hard. Even if you were successful or just starting out, this has affected artists in a big way. I would like to see dance organizations [become] more accessible to all dance forms, specifically in what they are choosing to present in their [performance] spaces. [Dance] organizations are going to have to pay more attention to that.

Online, we’re able to get audiences that we wouldn’t touch when we were performing in a physical space, so how are we able to build on those relationships? What are some things we can put in place now so that those audiences won’t be lost?

I also think we should use this opportunity to leverage more [financial] support for continuing dance in a greater capacity when we get back to “normal.” I wonder what organizations need right now to support our future “normal”?

 

By Shianne Antoine

Written in conjunction with the D.C. dance journalism project.

Artists Are Affected: Malcolm Shute on Choreography That Parses Relationships

Artists Are Affected: Malcolm Shute on Choreography That Parses Relationships

The growing COVID-19 pandemic has turned all of our lives upside down. Each of us is affected in one way or another, whether by social distancing, online staff meetings via video chat, closed studios, or by the cancellations of  scheduled performances. Talking with Malcolm Shute, my former college dance professor at Towson University, helped me gain a sense of the possibilities for continuing to one’s creative work through this pandemic and beyond.

Malcolm Shute is the founder of Human Landscape Dance, an internationally known dance company based in Washington, D.C. created in 2006. Shute earned his MFA in dance and choreography from the University of Maryland College Park and is a certified movement analyst through the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies. Shute currently teaches multiple courses at Towson University, including a course on the evolution of vampires in film and dance composition.

How did Human Landscape begin?

When I went to grad school in 2003, I had been dancing with multiple companies in the D.C. area, but felt a strain of wanting to go in the direction of performing my own work. I focused on choreography in grad school. My heart was leading me to create in the off-campus community. Near the end grad school, I reached out to my very dear friend Alex Short to make work together. He and I have worked on Human Landscape ever since.

We call it Human Landscape because I’m very interested in the connections between people and the environments we live in, including other people. Most of my work is based on relationships and partnering; I look for connections — what makes people part of their landscape, and, particularly, connections with people. It’s always been a playful process conducted among friends.

 

How are you and the Human Landscape dancers handling social distancing?

That’s the primary tension right now. I’m fortunate that Alex (Short) is still willing to dance with me. He and I are basically family, so I’m not worried that we would infect each other since we mostly socialize and dance with each other. I’m grateful that I’m still able to move with somebody because it’s my “bread and butter” and the fabric of my reality. I realize, as people separate [physically] more and more, I find myself going stir crazy. Why can’t I just go into the studio like I have every day for the last twenty years? It’s a huge challenge. Some dancers want to rehearse via Zoom, so I’m working on how we can create a coherent piece. It’s a Band-Aid on the problem of social distancing, but I don’t do social distancing! I social cling, smear, groove! It’s been a hell of a challenge; I haven’t quite figured it out yet.

The company had a performance at the Dance Loft on 14 scheduled for the weekend of April 18-19. What are the ramifications for postponing or cancelling? Are you taking a financial hit?

There have been financial losses. We hope to perform our DC and Baltimore shows in the future, but we won’t recoup everything even so. We’ve had to postpone our Japan tour for a year as well. A lot of work goes into presenting a show long before opening night, as you know. There are promotional materials that are now wasted, building support which has lost all momentum, and technicians and designers who may not be able to work a revised schedule.

But, most of all, the work itself suffers during these setbacks. Dances need to be polished and performed multiple times meet their peak. Our work is built to the bodies of the dancers; after a certain point, it is not transferable. I’m afraid that some of our dances may never be performed. It is better to lose dances than to lose lives. It still hurts, though.

 

What have you done to help occupy your time?

I’m video editing more now. I would rather spend this time making art and finding fulfillment rather than spinning my wheels. [The company members] are also tossing around the idea of an online concert. For not just Human Landscape, but for many groups. The idea is in the beginning stages, but it’s one I hope to pursue, particularly since I’ve lost several shows as a result of this [pandemic]. I know many of my friends have as well. We have this captive audience who are stuck at home, bored, and looking for something new and interesting to spend their time upon. I hope this necessity is going to generate some sort of invention or genre.

I’m fortunate enough to still have a job [at Towson University]. I’ve spent a lot of time working on teaching online. I’ve got a level three dance composition class about creating group choreography. Now, my students don’t have groups to work with. The impressions I’ve been hearing about from their isolation have inspired me to work harder to narrow the divide.

I’ve also been hanging around the family a lot. My daughter [12 years old] is really into ballet, so we’ll do a ballet barre together and, as you can imagine, that is something I haven’t done in a very long time!

What are you hoping that the dance world will acknowledge or change by the end of this pandemic?

A renewed sense of how lucky we are to get to do what we do. Our culture discourages connection: We look at screens all day, even before we were isolated socially. I feel that what we [dancers] do – communicating with each other in a room, performing cooperative relationships — is such a gift! In some ways, I feel that it could be a solution for the world: ”Make dance, not war.” I hope the pandemic serves as inspiration to create more work for the sheer pleasure and privilege of getting to do it. I hope we become more supportive of each other, having been separated. It makes me more appreciative of the support I’ve gotten over the years. I understand why we’re here; I just hope when we congregate again, we’ll return with a vengeance.

 

By Shianne Antoine

A Beautiful Disconnect

Motion X Dance

Atlas Intersections Festival

February 22

A review of The Fate of Choice written by Shianne Antoine

The Fate of Choice is a collaboration between choreographer Stephanie Dorrycott and graphic designer Lindsay Benson Garrett. This contemporary piece is accompanied with piano melodies, moving images, and video clips all compiled into three sections. Dorrycott and Garrett explained during the post-show chat that their process began with a conversation about free will. They explored various philosophies on this and their ultimate goal is to display how a human operates with free will along with surrounding variables (people, nature, technology, etc.). The collaboration enveloped dance and graphic design as one, and as the collaborators stated, each art form builded upon and mirrored one another.

The first section doesn’t hesitate to present the dancer’s abilities. They dance expressively as they flick their wrists, brush their hands down their body, and expand themselves through quick leg extensions. After this section, a video displays two dancers mirroring each other’s pendulum-like leans. The next two times the video appears, the images of the dancers become distorted and frantic as a repetitive piano riff plays. The moving images projected individually behind the dancers are lines of string reverberating, an orange fabric twisting, and a kaleidoscope-like rainbow whirling. In one section, the fabric image is brought to life.

 A soloist rolls onto the stage wrapped in orange fabric that unravels as she travels. Her solo is not dainty nor gentle;it is commanding and robust. She stretches, flings, tosses, and wraps herself in the cloth. It is clear that she feels affliction towards the fabric, flinging it briskly away from her, yet she finds comfort when returning carefully to it. Sections later, the cloth reappears with four dancers pulling it around the soloist. These dancers trap her within this web, and as she tries to escape, her face, elbows, and knees push through it in an eerie way. 

The seven women dance with a sense of urgency coupled with elegance. The musical breaths heard throughout the piece are gratifying, the exhales cushion every jump and flick thrown. Consistently, there is one movement per count on the music in a comfortably predictable way. Most of the movements aren’t repeated, and if they are, it’s appreciated, like the recurrent brush of a flexed foot. When pauses occur, they’re in unison, making me wish for more prolonged stillness throughout the piece. The greatness of Motion X lies within their strength. Not only are they kicking their legs toward their ears, jumping with feather like quality, and rolling soundlessly to the ground, but they are lifting each other in innovative ways, such as an airborne cartwheel or a completely vertical lift. 

 Satisfying canons (a phrase executed by multiple dancers at different times), are the highlight of this piece. These canons leave only one beat difference between dancers, and though the counts are easy to gather, the phrases are complex. One phrase involves a shooting slide out of the legs, a body roll, a leg circle, and an elbow push all done within four counts. The final canon, in a horizontal line, transforms with ripples starting at different points of the formation.

Eventually, my focus remains on the communication between the dancers and I cannot distinguish their relationship. They connect, look towards, and move as one, but there’s obscurity in their correlation. Surprisingly, the relationship the soloist has with the orange fabric is more clear than the connection between the dancers. One could see the battle of love and hate projected onto the fabric, yet the dancers didn’t display a particular feeling towards each other throughout. The Fate of Choice demonstrates the gorgeous technicality of each dancer, yet this artistic collaboration relaying free will leaves me pondering. These thoughts regarding the relation between dancers and theme entice me to see this piece again.

This review was written in conjunction with the Dance Metro D.C.’s writer’s cohort.

Kindred Cultures

A Review of the Global Perspectives Festival by Shianne Antoine

The “Global Perspectives Festival”, a production featuring dance companies of different cultures based in the D.C. area, took place at Dance Place on February 8-9. Christopher K. Morgan, the executive artistic director of Dance Place, stated before the show began that it is important for Dance Place to celebrate all people of different backgrounds as much as possible. Morgan wants to “make sure [Dance Place] is accessible. Especially in the nation’s capital at this time”. Traditional Mexican, Chinese, Ukrainian, Indian, and Cuban dances showcased the production’s diversity and highlighted various similarities.

The cultures of Mexico, Ukraine, and Cuba are distinct, but watching the companies perform the traditional dances of these three cultures made it apparent that they share similar inspirations. 

Maru Montero Dance Company performed Jalisco, a traditional Mexican dance. In this piece, couples excite the audience with rhythmic stomps, joyful shouts, and continuous twirls. The women paddle turn in place causing their bright colored skirts to make continuous ocean waves, mesmerizing the audience. The men impress the audience with their rhythmic stomping, cheerful shouting, and sword dancing.

The Suite of Hutsul Dances, performed by The Capaitha Folk Dance Ensemble, presents the traditional dances of Ukraine. The piece begins with four men performing the “Arkan”, which contains grapevine patterns, grand plies, hops, and gleeful shouts. This transitions into a soothing lullaby of soft walks and gentle paddle turns performed by five women. This piece concludes with four couples performing an exciting celebratory dance, the “Kolomiyka”. The couples shift foot to foot sprightly, finishing with an exclamation in celebration. 

The DC Casineros perform A Cuban Jam Session!!, a piece performed by four couples with traditional and current Cuban influences. The piece emits a fun, party atmosphere. The couples turn each other rapidly, dip the women, and twist their hips, all with a playful smile. The highlights lie within the simplicity of the unison, for example, when the dancers step ball-change and cha-cha in unison repeatedly, the consistency is satisfying to the eye. The dancers lead the audience in clapping on rhythm as the piece ends. 

The clearest differences between Jalisco, The Suite of Hutsul Dances, and A Cuban Jam Session!!  are the types of music being used, but the energy behind the music and movement are similar. Each represents dances from a different part of the world, but all three of these pieces display skillful footwork, playful partnering, and audible shouts. 

Contrasting the traditional structure of the first three discussed pieces, TRIBE and We, The Moon, The Sun envelop their cultures into a different dance style. We, The Moon, The Sun, performed by Gin Dance Company, blends Chinese dance with Modern dance. With a projection of the moon hanging in the sky behind her, a soloist gently folds and unfolds her arms within themselves. More dancers appear as the projection shifts to a sunrise image. The seven women, all wearing loose white dresses, gesture gracefully as if creating and moving a box in varied ways. Solos and duets breakaway from unison with long balletic lines and turns, which contrasts the intentional reaches and hand presses of the ensemble. The piece resolves as the original soloist drips her fingers behind her head in front of a sunset image.

TRIBE, performed by chitra.Moves, combines Eastern Indian dance with Hip Hop dance as well as combining these genre’s related music.  There are clear Indian-inspired arm movements, which then shifts into a pop of the chest or body roll from the Hip Hop genre. These women, wearing patterned Indian shirts with black sweatpants, are boldly entertaining. The transitions within TRIBE are completely flawless,there is never any indication of a compositional change approaching. By the end of TRIBE, there is no visual difference between Indian or Hip Hop steps; the steps effortlessly blend. 

These two pieces differ in the energy they provide. We, The Moon, The Sun is very calming while TRIBE is bold. Indian and Chinese dances can be characteristically similar as their focuses lie on hand and arm movements. Both pieces are also similar in their seamless blends of their respected cultural dance with a different dance genre.

“The Global Perspectives Festival” was a culturally diverse production, but it is evident that the cultural dances represented are similar in many ways. The joy of Jalisco easily matches the glee of The Suite of Hutsul Dances or the playfulness of A Cuban Jam Session!!. We, The Moon, The Sun finishes with a sense of peaceful certainty just as TRIBE ends with bold certainty. Whether the dance told a story or the dance accompanied the music, each dance in the “Global Perspectives Festival” resolved with the same feeling:pure happiness.

This review, by Shianne Antoine, was written in conjunction with the Dance Metro DC Writer’s Cohort.

Continue reading “Kindred Cultures”

the space between (us) Review

the space between (us) is a piece of site-specific modern dance performed by Deep Vision Dance Company. Choreographer and Artistic Director, Nicole Martinell, created this piece in collaboration with sculptor Lisa Dillin. Lisa Dillin created three sculptures that abstractly replicate booths shoppers would sit in at a mall. Each sculpture is shaped like a cylinder and has green plants on the top. the space between (us) is a reflection on how people interact with others, or rather, how we don’t interact with others. Martinell challenges the audience in acknowledging the thought that architecture today can not only create physical barriers between people, but social barriers as well. Nicole Martinell encouraged the audience to move throughout the space to get a different view and experience of the performance. Deep Vision Dance Company is a modern dance company based in Baltimore and has seven dancers.

            the space between (us) began with the dancers sitting or standing near each sculpture, which slightly remind me of energy pods. While in the pods, the dancers shifted their stance or seated position in a pedestrian manner.  Dancers crossed their arms, smoothed their hair, and tapped their hands on their knees. This moment evolved as the dancers repeated their sequence of pedestrian shifts and sped up each time they repeated the sequence.

            Many sections seemed to be separated by a freeze in time. The dancers would freeze together for some time, and then the present idea would shift. The ideas that I felt presented themselves clearly were: being detached, exploration, filling negative space, pathways/seeing one another, playing, invading space, and seeing audience. The ideas that stood out to me most were playing, exploration, and invading space. One of my favorite moments was when two dancers left their pedestrian movement and acknowledged the other dancers in the space by looking at them and connecting physically with them. This moment was intriguing to see. I was anticipating seeing a frozen “pedestrian” finally acknowledging the dancer beckoning them to connect. The frozen dancers melted onto the floor, literally. This was so incredibly satisfying to watch. The dancers’ bodies easily slid off of the seat of the pod, to the steps of the pod, and onto the ground. From that moment on, the dancers openly connected with each other and the pod in an explorative way. After the dancers connected and explored the pods, they completely filled the space around and within the pods in a lively way.

The “playing” idea was pleasing to watch. Dancers found new ways to move in, thru, and around the pods. There was a moment when someone went into a handstand by leaning their legs on the pod wall, another moment where someone was hanging upside down from the pod railing, and another moment where dancers seemed like they were playing tag around the pods. All of these moments happened around the same time and my eyes were darting from one area of the space to the next. The dancers felt so light in their energy when they played that it reminded me of being a child. It also reminded me that adults don’t play nearly as much as they should (and if everyone found themselves in a Modern/Improvisation class now and then, they would fulfill their need for play!). The “invading space” idea centered on the dancers partnering with each other all in one clump with arms and legs reaching in all directions. The dancers also invaded the space of the audience by reaching their limbs into the negative space around someone watching. I wished that moment was longer.

            The dancers performed from within as it was so clear to me the shifts from one idea to the next. They danced with such joy and with excellent technique. I absolutely loved watching the dancers share weight with each other with genuine smiles on their faces. the space between (us) ended with the dancers grasping each other’s hands and elbows, like a warm handshake, and gently grabbing an audience member’s hand. These audience members were brought into the sculptures with their guiding dancer.  “We live in an isolated world. We can see each other in different ways if we step outside the box and see the elements around us and what connects us as human beings” Martinell stated to the audience at the end of one of the performances. the space between (us) is a beautiful depiction of how people connect with themselves, others, and the space around them.

the space between (us) exhibition is available for viewing at VisArts until October 20, 2019

 

By Shianne Antoine

ADDICT

ADDICT is a show that was choreographed and produced by Madeline Maxine Gorman. This show displays the different faces and the complexities of addiction. This piece is an evening length narrative about different individuals, families, and relationships experiencing the complex emotions related to addiction. ADDICT donated all of its proceeds to the Helping Up Mission, an organization in Baltimore that helps people that are homeless, impoverished, or suffering addiction meet the needs that they require. The proceeds from this performance specifically helps fund the Helping Up Mission’s “Inspiring Hope” campaign, which will build a new homeless center for women and children that are affected by addiction. Gorman’s choreography strives to change the community’s view of addicts and addiction. As Gorman stated at the end of the show, “I think everyone is connected to addiction”, we all may know someone struggling with addiction or someone closely connected to an addict whether we know it or not.

ADDICT is a multi media show that not only was choreographed beautifully, but exposed the raw talent of spoken word artists, musicians, and singers. All of the poetry was written by people that have been helped by the Helping Up Mission (HUM). These poems were published in a book called “War of Grace: Poems from the Front Lines of Recovery”. After a kind representative explains the importance of the HUM and the HUM choir sings two uplifting gospel songs, the show begins with the two musicians playing strings accompanied by a poem. “Maybe I’m too black for you to hear” the poet expressed to the Lord. Every entrance of a dancer was from stage left and they eventually found themselves in the downstage right corner, which I related it to be the “addiction” or “situation” corner.

The first story we see is about a couple where one person is dealing with addiction and his partner is encountering her own struggles watching him deal with it. A dancer, Rashad Ferguson, enters the space and performs various wraps around his torso and eye-catching quick shifts of weight. His movement seemed to give off a feeling of confusion and brokenness. Another dancer, Christina Dunnington, soon enters and the solo becomes a brief duet before the first dancer leaves the stage. Dunnington’s movements are very direct and clear in comparison to the confused and conflicted energy given by Ferguson. As Ferguson renters the stage, Dunnington’s energy becomes confused and broken like her partners’. They move in unison with reckless directional shifts filled with emotion, as if Dunnington was pleading with her partner. They resolve their duet with quick shifts of weight forward and backward, taking their bodies off balance in unison. This felt like they were fighting their struggles together. Dunnington ends the duet by facing Ferguson and placing her hand on his face, trying to center him, and he briskly shoves her hand away from his face and leaves her alone onstage. To me, this story didn’t feel like a romantic relationship between the two, looking at their interactions, but it did seem like they were close friends or siblings.

The next story involves a soloist, Deontay Gray, dealing with addiction on his own. He entered the stage crawling in a broken down fashion. His movement was a blend of controlled and uncontrollable movements. He would sauté arabesque up high and then crumble to the ground. This moment was repeated and made me feel pain towards him. How the addiction was making him ache was beautifully displayed through his body. The repetition of his movements stuck with me: the falling in a heap on the floor, the swiping the forearm across his face, all of it made my heart ache for him. The singing that accompanied this section was soft and Gray’s solo contrasted that quality. I felt sympathetic towards this soloist, and at the same time in awe of him.

The next story seemed to be about a family who was dealing with the addiction of their daughter. It opened with the mother, father, and daughter smiling together as if frozen in a picture frame. The daughter, Kayla Clancy, leaves her parents in the picture frame to execute a phrase of direct movements. I felt that she was presented as the addict in this story with her isolated movements away from her family. Within these moments, she showed a motif of holding her head or back of her neck with one hand. I saw this as Clancy trying to steady herself or maybe punish herself for what she was enduring. Her movement was very technical and strong. I could see how trained Clancy is with her suspended inversions and swift changes in her timing and energy. As the daughter is dancing, the parents’ smile drops slowly. A truly sad moment was when Clancy kneeled in front of the parents, Natalie Boegel and Blake Caple, waved at them, and they ignored her.

This story continued with the trio sitting in chairs and gently doing gestural movements while on them. The parents often slid down off of the chairs in a lethargic manner when the daughter tried to interact with them. Clancy eventually leaves the space and the focus is given to each parent separately. The father, Caple, moves from the inside out with combative energy. It felt as if he was fighting with himself or the negative energy around him. Caple danced beautifully and really drew me in, I did not want to stop watching him. He shook, crawled, rolled, and flopped himself from the upstage left corner to the downstage right corner and back again. The mother, Boegel, moved with great length in her limbs. This dancer let the movements settle into her body before she would dare to do another step. A memorable moment was when she sat in a low grand plié, head tucked into her chest, with her hands open resting on the top of her head. Boegel’s hands pulsed slightly and she slowly lifted her head to see if anything has been placed in her hands while she sat. The mother showed a motif of rubbing her hands on the inside of her forearms, sometimes gently and sometimes vigorously. At the end of this story, you can hear the daughter yelling “Mom! Somebody help!” while the mom is in the “addiction/situation” corner rubbing her forearms. This makes me wonder if the entire family is suffering with different addictions instead of the daughter being the only addict.

The final story is about a soloist, Destiny Cooke, overcome by her addiction. She enters onto the stage backwards and groggily. Cooke moves like she is overcome with fatigue. Her movement quality was astounding. Cooke would move slowly around the space, stumbling, and then would quickly present a beautiful line, suspension, or turn. It was like we were getting to see snippets of the beauty, talent, and potential within her character in between the large chunks of her struggles, stumbles, and falls with addiction. All of her technical movements were surprise moments that captured me.

ADDICT ends with the dancers all entering onstage backwards and performing the motifs they did in the sections we saw them in before. Boegel did the forearm rubbing, Ferguson did the head swiping, Clancy did the neck hold, and etc. The dancers then danced in unison that put moments together from each story. The dancers’ did a sharp sauté arabesque with their head up and fall into a roll was repeated multiple times. The dancers convened in the “addiction” corner as if to say that they’re not alone; they are all together and will support each other through addiction. At the end, the dancers, poets, and musicians walked around the space slowly looking at one another and then faced the audience in a straight line downstage. The lights were brought up in the house at this moment so we could all see each other, performers and audience, for who we are: human beings. The song during this moment was gorgeous. “You’d be surprised the secrets God reveals through the music of your soul” the lyrics stated.

As a person, dancer, and follower of Christ, I was so glad I came to see ADDICT. Madeline Gorman put together an excellent piece that opened my eyes and my heart to those affected by addiction. The stories that Gorman told were so real and important to acknowledge. Her work and her dancers moved me and inspired me. I do hope ADDICT gets another opportunity to be presented because it says so much in only forty minutes time. Baltimore needs to keep an eye out for Madeline Maxine Gorman. Her passion for dance and her choreography is a treasure that can help push her and our dance community in the right direction.

Learn more about the Helping Up Mission on their website here: https://helpingupmission.org/

By Shianne Antoine

Inside the Block Outside the Box Preview Review

Inside the Block Outside the Box is a dance production hosted by The Collective, a Baltimore based Modern dance company. Other artists will be performing along with The Collective. These artists are LucidBeings Dance, Chiles VandenBosche and Lea Williams, In the Dark Circus Arts, and DeAundre Drisdom. The show will be held at Creative Alliance on Sunday September 16 at four o’clock. Sonia Synkowski, the Artistic Director of The Collective, gave me a tour of Creative Alliance and shared great details about the upcoming production.

The show will begin with a trio of dancers, from The Collective, dancing down a set of wooden stairs. “We try to keep each piece five minutes or less…we want to give hors d’oeuvres of dance to the audience, which makes it more exciting” Synkowski said. The trio will transition into the theatre, which is where six pieces of choreography will be performed. This portion in the theatre will begin with an aerial dance piece, by In the Dark Circus Arts, and will finish with a Hip Hop styled piece, by DeAundre Drisdom. When audience members enter into the theatre, there will be a colored card on their seat. The card color would determine what space the audience members will explore after exiting the theatre.

The spaces used in Creative Alliance for this performance are the stairs, gallery, Marquee Lounge, and the theatre. The theatre is the most traditional space the performers will use in this show, creating an exciting and creative environment for dance. The Collective has hosted a production for dance in Creative Alliance for the last nine years, and this is the second year they have used all of the spaces in Creative Alliance for performing, rather than staying in the theatre. Synkowski expressed that she is dreaming of one year using the outdoor space as well as the inside space of Creative Alliance, that way the audience will be greeted with dance before they even buy their tickets inside.

LucidBeings Dance will be performing a trio in the Marquee Lounge, a quaint lounge space with a bar and tables and unique miniature airplanes hanging from the ceiling. LucidBeings Dance is a Contemporary Modern dance company originally from Fredrick, MD. In the Gallery, a Lindy Hop piece will be performed by Chiles VandenBosche and Lea Williams. This piece will be a partnered dance inspired by the style of West Coast Swing. A Collective quartet will also perform in the gallery space. This piece is choreographed by Lynne Price, The Collective Company Member, and was inspired by the artwork on display on the gallery walls.

The gallery artist, Gina Pierleoni, titled her piece “What Makes Us (Us)”. All over the gallery walls, there are many drawings of people on small rectangular canvases. Each canvas is completely different in color, media, and style, as each drawing is of someone that Pierleoni has met and cared for in her life. She began the series “What Makes Us (Us)’ twenty six years ago in 1992. The artwork Pierleoni created was inspired by people she would see on the train, models in her art classes that she would teach, and new friends she made. On the back of each canvas, she has written a short story about each person she has drawn about. “We look at people all the time and don’t know what their stories are” Pierleoni told me as she looked at her artwork on the gallery walls. She was inspired to create this artwork by her love of people and wanting to know the story behind each person she was captured by. “We need to connect, not just in the age of Trump….we are better when we connect” said Pierleoni.

The idea of connection draws into the inspiration of Lynne Price’s piece that will be performed in the gallery surrounded by Pierleoni’s artwork. Price was heavily influenced by the dancers and how different they are, but also how they connect. Price was also inspired by a particular drawing in the gallery, which looks like a colorful ribcage. Price imagines adding on to the choreography, transforming it into something even bigger. As I walked around the gallery space, the dancers were rehearsing the choreography given to them. “Embody them, allow them to influence your sense of space” Price said to the dancers, referring to the drawings of people around them. Price feels that there are so many layers to the piece, in the rupture versus repair feeling, connecting, and even meeting Gina Pierleoni for the first time a week prior to the show added another layer onto their creation. This piece will be performed twice, both times to a different song, which will be giving the audience two different feelings about the performance. This piece will definitely be a must-see.

It was so exciting for me to be in the space the dancers will perform in and meet with some of the choreographers and the gallery artist. I can truly say, without a doubt, this is going to be a thrilling show. The audience will get a taste of dance in Baltimore and will even get to view beautiful artwork at the same time. This is definitely the show to see this fall!

By Shianne Antoine

Inside the Block Outside the Box presented by The Collective and special guests

9/16 4pm $12 per ticket

http://www.collective-dance.com/     http://www.creativealliance.org/

Permeating Presence Review

Permeating Presence is a piece of choreography that was performed at the “Drawing the Universe” show, hosted by BlueShift Dance, at Baltimore Theatre Project. This piece was performed by LucidBeings Dance and was choreographed by Franki Graham and Jeanna Riscigno. Riscigno and Graham explained in an interview that their creative process included contact improvisation and phrase creation based on various ideas, such as pouring or dissolving. They allowed the movement they created to move the audience to choose to view the journey of an individual dancer, duet, or the whole group. LucidBeings Dance is directed by both Franki Graham and Jeanna Riscigno and is based in Fredrick, MD.

Permeating Presence opens with limbs reaching out of the wings in surprising ways. A pair of legs were hanging out of the stage right wing at the height you’d expect someone’s head to be. Rolling slowly, four dancers slowly seep onto the stage to get into a clump that feels like a living breathing organ. The dancers then extend into a standing vertical line and strike their left elbow directly sideways. Then, they each broke away from the line into individual seamless flowing movements of turning with sporadic pauses. One dancer runs to the downstage right corner and gasps loudly for air. The rest of the dancers followed to the downstage right corner and gasped on their own timing. I acknowledged that this corner is very important to the dancers, calling it the “mothership” in my mind. The dancers then did their own variation of movements that involved double turns, large ball changes and shifts of weight, and large windmills of the arms.

“We are just visiting” is heard in the sound score and that shifts the dancers to move into two duets. One duet is downstage and one of these dancers is floating limply on her partner’s hip, and they both swayed forward and back in this lift. The other duet, in center, was consistently shifting and rolling onto one another on the floor, one wrapping her arms and legs around the torso of her partner to lie sideways in her lap, as well as finding moments to support and hold each other. This duet felt very warm in that they were individuals in relation with each other, while the duet downstage seemed to create one static energy. The downstage duet’s lift transformed into a sinking and rolling on the floor to follow the movements of the trio in center. The dancers perform a beautiful weight share of one dancer hinging backwards to lean her back on the shoulders of her partner sitting below her. Riscigno shared with me in her interview that her and Graham’s choreography explores “existence as energies continually changing form and eventually experiencing that brief moment where our physical form and consciousness meet to create life”. The dancers emote different energies in this piece ranging from sharp, to free flowing, to trancelike, demonstrating this exploration.

Next, the dancers move into new duets with similar partnering from the previous pairings. One exciting moment was when two dancers stood with their backs facing their partners and the other dancers laid on their backs with their legs lifted in the air. The standing dancers arched backwards and rocked back onto her partner’s suspended feet to be held in the air. Both duets went into this lift at the same time and it was gorgeous. This reminded me of when children would do this with their parents to feel like they’re flying as their parent would place their feet onto their child’s hips to suspend them in the air. While the duets are supporting each other, one dancer escapes from her partner and keeps beckoning towards the downstage right corner, the “mothership”, with her hands and her focus, reaching towards something we cannot see.

The movement throughout the last half of the piece felt trancelike. It was as if the dancers were moving without being in control of their actions, like another entity controlled their movements. Each dancer moved with a floating quality and kept their focus intentional yet dazed as they looked at the downstage corner. Then, all four dancers traveled downstage center and created a tableau with each dancer in contact with another. One of the dancers rested her head on the shoulders of a lunging dancer, and had her feet lifted in the air by another dancer behind her as the last dancer connected with them while perched low to the ground. It was a very eye catching snapshot moment.

One by one, the dancers broke away from the tableau to reach their arms and gasp at the “mothership”. They each gasped and reached both their arms diagonally up on their own timing and drifted forward and backwards in this corner, repeating their gasps. In this moment, I began to feel like the dancers were part of an alien invasion of sorts, like they were being pulled back onto a spaceship after exploring a new region. Out of the downstage corner came surprise unison in duets that flowed out of individual phrases that were filled with sharp parallel turns, quick strikes of the arms, and fast surprising jumps. These movements lead each dancer back into their vertical line. The piece ended with the dancers reaching their arms back up and then one dancer gives one big gasp. In the blackout, the audio said “We’re just visiting”.

Permeating Presence is a gorgeous piece of choreography that had my eyes shooting from one dancer to the next throughout the performance. This piece was filled with surprise moments and many overlapping segments. I found myself widening my eyes and saying “wow” when I saw this performed for the first time at the Baltimore Dance Invitational. I felt the need to see this piece a second time to really wrap my head around what was happening and not get caught up in the consistent surprise moments and beauty. This piece is definitely one I could watch over and over again and still find something new and wonderful about it each time I view it.

 

 

By Shianne Antoine

And&And&And Review

And&And&And is a piece created by Peter Redgrave and Lynne Price. The two artists created their work by the structure of various improvisation games leaving this show performed with only improvisation. Audience participation was used multiple times in this performance. Redgrave and Price created their own live soundtrack of breathing, stomping, clapping, spoken word from audience members, and singing within the performance. This performance was the first featured in the second BIDA season and was performed at Church on the Square.

When viewers entered the space, they saw gorgeous swirl patterns of red yarn all over the floor and white Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling. We were told to sit in different areas in the space, ranging from the sides of the room, the front of the room, and the balcony in the back of the space. This created the effect that there wasn’t a ‘front’ facing for the dancers and each viewer would have a different perspective of the performance.

And&And&And begins with Redgrave standing in the doorway and Price enters from the opposite direction. They slowly walk on the red yarn facing each other, both wearing a short blue patterned toga with yarn tied around their waist, while holding green yarn in their hands. They began flinging their green yarn loosely toward each other, which mushed the beautiful red yarn pattern all together. They both shifted their weight front and back as they swung their green yarn and rotated to face the opposite wall they were facing, still swinging their yarn. Redgrave remained with an up and down swing of the yarn and Price swung hers side to side as she twisted her torso right and left. The red yarn became a pile of noodles at their feet after the shifting and swinging of their green yarn.

Naturally, their individual green yarns get tangled like a web. They each take turns sticking their arms and legs into the holes of the web they created. The two found a beautiful counterbalance with each other, pulling their green yarn away from each other. Price then shifts to the floor and Redgrave pulls her around, by the yarn, slowly and then eventually running fast in a circle with the green yarn at his hips. Price slides along behind him holding onto the yarn.

Price then breaks away from the green yarn to perform indirect and flowy, yet powerful movements. Her head swept down to the floor and suspended her body up before her head led her to roll. She continued by putting weight into her hands, extending her leg up. Price then does a slight wiggle of her knees and pelvis while actively exhaling. Redgrave then moves into the same characteristic of movement quality of his dance partner, but done in a different way. He did many turns while off balance, which were so fun to watch, and carved his arms in space. Suddenly, Redgrave looks as if he can’t breathe. He points to his open mouth and stiffens his body. Price began making an “ahhhhh” panting sound to accompany her wiggling. She walks backwards with her head up and mouth still open. Redgrave moves internally, creeping forward with little steps, and gets smaller in his steps by holding his knees with his hands. It is as if he is trying to find his balance in this moment if he were walking on a tightrope. Price changes her exhale sound to an “ohhhh” and she slowly descends to the floor and finds stillness there. Redgrave finally audibly inhales, which initiates the next movement.

Price pops up from the floor and begins moving her body in different directions very quickly as she was saying things like “And I’m going to keep talking while I’m moving”. Price’s movements involved many twists and scooting of her feet. Redgrave began talking and moving as well saying things like “I choose not to stop it”. His movements involved stomping and jumping to make percussive sounds with his body. Price noticed her dance partner stop talking during his percussive movement and said “use our words Peter!” This section of the performance was so full and striking because the dancers were saying two different things in two different ways and moving completely different at the same time. I really wanted to listen and watch both of their dancing dialogues individually since they were both doing and saying such interesting things. Price was talking and moving very fast while Redgrave was speaking very intentionally, like a monologue, and he moved in a similar manner. Redgrave then says “It. Just. Keeps. Going” which initiated Price’s aerobic bouncing on her feet and a skittering bourree from Redgrave. Price then grabs the red yarn, which is now a tangled pile, and wears it around her neck like a scarf.

These two artists work so well together throughout this piece as they really listened to each other physically and audibly. A beautiful moment that demonstrated this was when Price was lying on the ground face down and Redgrave laid his body on top of hers for a moment of stillness. One of them exhaled a big puff of air that broke their bodies apart into their own individual movement again. Finding that long pause and breaking away at the same time after that long puff of air took great body communication. These two were performing their own movement phrases after they separated, but they both were throwing their arms up repeatedly. Redgrave then stood by a group of viewers and Price stood by another. They were throwing their arms up and looking at us intently. They kept doing this and Price started laughing. Then one audience member caught on: the dancers were trying to get us to do the wave! Eventually, almost all of the audience members were doing the wave around the whole space.

While we were still doing the wave, Price gets a microphone and told one of the viewers sitting behind me to start talking about waves. He began saying things like “it starts calm and then it grows”. The microphone got passed on to the two other people beside me, and to me as well. “Ice in the waves”, “Huge waves!”, “There is salt in your hair”, “Woosh!”, and “Waves” were said by the viewers. What was fun about this part of the piece was that an audio tool was used to make the viewers’ words record and repeat on a loop as it was played. “Huge waves!” was my favorite part to hear. The viewers’ recorded voices became the soundtrack for this duet’s movement. As these words were heard, Redgrave reacted to the words. He moved his body loosely one side to another as if he was being tossed about in the ocean. Price joined the physical reactions as well as our voice recordings continued to play. Price waved her body beginning with her head and snaked down to her tail. She also scooped her arms in and out, moving as if she were the waves we were talking about. Price then got audience participation again. Hanging from the balcony were strings of green yarn and Price prompted the people sitting in the balcony to twirl the yarn to add to the wave inspired movements.

This led into Price directing one side of the audience in singing “na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye”. Redgrave led the opposite side of the audience in the same tune, so the whole audience was singing in a canon. The artists finish this piece by chasse-ing sideways in a circle facing each other and playfully swinging their arms with smiles while the audience was still singing. They end by giving the musical ‘rest’ symbol in both of their hands held above their heads.

And&And&And was one of my favorite pieces that I’ve seen a while. This piece invigorated me as it was so playful and was filled with games and movement, for movements’ sake. I left the Church on the Square with a smile on my face and wished that all dance could be this fun. I am so pleased to know these artists and I definitely applaud their bravery because being so free and so bold in front of an audience is not easy.

 

 

By Shianne Antoine

 

BIDA 2nd Annual Showcase Review

The BIDA 2nd Annual Showcase was a two day performance of ten different pieces. Each piece was choreographed by a different artist. The showcase was made of different themes and movements, but there were many similarities between the pieces. This was a show of many solos, chairs, and contemporary dance. The audience was very lucky to witness such a rich performance.

Ronderrick Mitchell’s Boy En Vogue

The first thing the audience saw is Mitchell sitting on chair and putting on red shoes that match his fierce red costume. The audio began with a debate between two people and transformed into a melodic soundscape with Hilary Clinton speaking in the background on LGBTQ rights. Mitchell performed a repetitive motif of giving the sign of the cross on his body with two fingers while sitting on the chair. His solo felt like self- discovery with his wavering between quick smooth movements and slow direct reaches with his limbs.

Samantha Hopkins’ Contents May Shift

This duet opens with Hopkins sitting in a chair and Polly Hurlburt lying her head in Hopkins’ lap. Throughout this playful duet, the two dancers found creative ways to lift and share weight with each other. A striking moment was when Hurlburt goes into a handstand and Hopkins grabs her partner’s feet behind her back and over her shoulder. Hopkins leans forward and Hurlburt gets back onto her feet, like a front walkover. The two emote a kind friendship with each other as they support each other in playful ways. A memorable moment was when the two counterbalanced with their necks pressed against each other, and they walked around in a circle in this counterbalance. That is something I definitely wanted to try after seeing this duet! Contents May Shift ends with a surprising lift: Hurlburt sits on Hopkins’ shoulder blades and presses her feet into her back. Hopkins then walks offstage out the door with Hurlburt on her back. This audibly wowed the audience.

Imani Shabazz’s Extra Terrestrial Bodies

This was a duet that was filled with gracious energy flowing through the dancers’ arms and torso that was accompanied with Wassoulou music. This piece felt like a religious offering as the dancers often beckoned their arms upwards. A memorable moment was when the dancers were kneeling facing each other and tapped their stomach, chest, forehead, and then opened their arms in a high release. They repeated this movement in different speeds, which was very satisfying to watch. Shabazz and Tadesse danced with smiles on their faces and kept the high energy flowing throughout Extra Terrestrial Bodies.

Zakari Jaworski’s Scheduled Interruption

This trio begins with three dancers rolling onto the stage. The music that played with this piece changed many times and it dictated the feeling the dancers were portraying. As I watched this piece, I thought about the transformation of television over time and how the dancers were seeming to tell that historic story. The music and movement raged from playful to aggressive to soothing. An exciting moment was when Ledesma climbed onto Jaworski’s back with effort and then drapped his body sideways over Jaworski’s back. Jaworski then held onto Ledesma’s body and spun him around rapidly. This piece had beautiful moments and comical moments, such as the ending of the piece with the dancers replicating the well-known painting “The Creation of Adam”.

Domineka Reeves’ Your Day Will Come

Reeves’ solo began with her running onstage and slowly rubbing her hands on her arms and body. This piece felt very emotional as Reeves performed protective gestures such as covering her head with her hands and caressing her body for comfort. Your Day Will Come encompassed the emotional melody of the same titled music very well and was performed with evident passion.

Madeline Maxine Gorman’s Bitten Tongue

Bitten Tongue is a solo performed by Kayla Clancy. This solo was incredibly energetic and manipulated movement sequences with repetition that was not overdone. Clancy performed beautifully as she was seen repeating a backwards roll and quickly lunging to the pulsing beat of the music. This piece began with Clancy standing in a spotlight and she began to speak, but the sound of gunshot interrupts her and shoves her out of the spotlight. An eye catching moment was when Clancy was ticking and twitching her head and arms very quickly like a malfunctioning robot, but she crumbled to the ground as a human when laughing becomes audible in the sound score. Clancy builds her movement back up to its ferocious quality. The solo ends with Clancy back in the spotlight and finally getting to speak saying “I am not afraid, I am not ashamed, I am strong!” This piece was a great energetic conclusion to the Saturday night show.

Melissa Hudson’s The Weight of Waiting

The Weight of Waiting is a group piece of seven dancers. This piece displayed a gorgeous flow and technique from the dancers. The beauty of the canons and individual solos was the consistent backbone of this piece. This group also worked with chairs and seeing seven of them, used by seven dancers, was so appealing. The dancers moved the backs of their chairs into a small circle and the group moved from chair to chair smoothly. A favorite moment of mine was when one dancer stood on her chair in center stage and slowly leaned her body into a long lateral T. The movement grew from direct with ease to strong and quick as the piece progressed. Another memorable moment was when the dancers had their chairs in a vertical line and one by one they tip toed slowly and carefully down the line of chairs. It reminded me of walking on clouds while they were lifting their arms freely as they stepped from chair to chair. Hudson’s choreography is inspiring and stunning.

Natalie Boegel’s Verguenza

This was a solo performed by Hannah Soares. Soares performed this solo with such power and grace. There is no doubt that she is a powerful dancer and can quickly change movement quality, as this was a theme in Verguenza. Soares spent most of her time swiping her legs and arms on the floor in various movement phrases, but what remained, whether on her knees or standing, was a motif of her right hand creeping around the back of her head and spoking her elbow towards her left knee sharply. The contrast between the smooth movements and the sharp movements were massive and made this solo stimulating.

Colorful Soles’#NineTen

This was performed by a group of seven dancers. #NineTen was made up of lovely canons and graceful movements. The dancers’ movements made me think of angels. The dancers were lifted and moved their arms in carved shapes through the air. It was clear that these dancers work well together and dance seamlessly as a group.

Torens Johnson’s In My Head

This is a solo performed by Diedre Dawkins. This was an expansive solo that showcased Dawkins’ lovely technique and power. She performed jumps, penches, and high releases, all while dancing on and around a bench. Dawkins performed Johnson’s choreography with a pleasant smile on her face, which made this solo even more exciting to watch.

Overall, the BIDA 2nd Annual Showcase was a success. I am so thrilled with the performances on both days. The performances showcased the Baltimore dance community in all its similarities and differences. The choreography was emotional, comical, graceful, beautiful and powerful. This was such a great opportunity for the audience to see great choreography performed by great dancers. I am definitely looking forward to what the 3rd Annual Showcase will bring.

 

 

by Shianne Antoine