Can a breath of fresh air linger for over 55 years. When it comes to an inventive dance choreographer, the answer is yes.
I am not a dance critic nor an eloquent purveyor of words, but I do love the expression of emotions in all forms of art. And I’m lucky that my husband is even a bigger fan – Jene’s career background was in lighting and he was lucky enough to work/tour with a number of dance companies and the Limon Company was one of them. Last night we were among many patrons of the arts, seniors and students at the Manhattan School of Music listening to the Chamber Jazz Ensemble, conducted by Justin DiCioccio. The six instruments filled the hall with toe tapping, finger snapping riffs of magical jazz that was sultry, bouncey, poignant and gritty.
The premise driving “Rooms” is urban alienation. The marriage of modern dance to jazz was a natural and it was evident in this piece. So avante-garde. “Alone” performed by the company of 8 set the tone. Eight singular person, seated separately in a room, moving somewhat in sequence with each other and yet not as if they were “alone”. I’m not sure which is the word that can describe the feeling best – I think self inflicted isolation with a dash of angst depicted in the quick, almost spastic burst of movement followed by a stillness. I felt like they all knew how to go about stepping out of their “comfort zone” but couldn’t manage to do so. Remember this is only my thoughts.
My favorite was “Escape” a solo by Kristen Foote. 5 chairs filled the stage, the far one on my right was occupied by a woman in thought. I could feel her thoughts as they swept from her head through her body. Far away, losing herself to happier times, times when she was not so alone. She moved to the empty chairs as if they were each connected to a partner that shared her life. Her touch was gentle, caressing, dancing as if she was once again in the arms of her lover. Retracing the movements through her dance. Then it seemed as if she would shake the memory from her mind, only to revisit it again at another place and time. Her movements were sultry, her hips swayed with her inner rhythm. A glimpse into her “inner Sanctum”.
Escape: uTube link: Modern dance icon, Anna Sokolow’s 1955 choreography of ROOMS – this is a rehearsal video of the ‘Escape’ solo – performed by Laurie Freedman – recorded in 1973 for the Batsheva Dance Company archives.
I hold tender moments in my mind that I often replay. (who doesn’t?). In some ways this piece reminded me of an image I photographed entitled “his touch lingers” which is part of a series called “Inner Sanctum”. When I am alone in my darkened house, my thoughts travel and bring me back to a time shared. It’s bittersweet, a smile wraps around my thoughts as my mind feels the joy that surges through me at his touch, but the longing can be painful and I abruptly drop the memory, narrowly escaping my yearnings. I am once again alone.
Of course I have interjected my personal interpretations to this piece. Others may have seen it differently but that’s the beauty of art, it touches eash of us in a personal way. I always loved my melancholy moments, not in a morbid depressing manner. For me, it lets me revisit the tender moments that I’ve share with loved ones, I wear that emotion like the red cashmere robe that I had given my mother. I would feel the warmth of her and could garnish strength to carry on. It’s a passing, like all things in life, nothing is permanent so when I am not in the arms of my husband, thoughts of him/of us gets me through the night.
I can tell you about the other movements but so much is lost in translation. If you get the chance to let this piece become a part of your moment, sit back, relax, get lost in it and let it move you into a different time and place in your life. We’ve all experienced being alone, so we all can relate on one level or another.
One regret – that the program was only last night. What a terrific combination: Jazz, Anna’s creation and the Limon Company. Jene and I try to follow their performances and click here for a link to their schedule. Carla Maxwell is the artistic director of the Limon Dance Company and I thank her for the selection of “Rooms”.