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