Monday, February 11, 2008

BosmaDance's Euphoria

Over the weekend I saw a show presented by BosmaDance in collaboration with the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra. I thought it appropriately titled, "Euphoria," acknowledging the combination of audio and visual stimulation. The first half of the show was entirely orchestral presentation. The ASO performed works by Strauss, Bach, and Tchaikovsky. In an effort to involve the dance enthusiasts of the audience, the director, Kim Allen Kluge, encouraged the audience to see the intricate ballet happening between the instruments and the hands commanding them. "Bows leaping across strings," was how he phrased it. Though it was a noble effort, I do not think that music can be justly compared to ballet in those terms. Dance should be a mindful expression, filling your eyes with your hearts unsung emotion. The glorious distinction of music is in its rapturous and exquisite sound, incomparable to dance for they are two complimentary yet different art forms. If in these two hours of watching the orchestra perform I saw any dance upon stage, it was not between fingers and instruments, it was the musicians' uncontrollable urge to sway to the passionate phrasings within the score.

After a brief intermission, the orchestra again set onstage, this time further away from the audience leaving a spacious canvas for BosmaDance. In an informal, yet polite introduction, director, Kim Allen Kluge, brought Artistic Director, Meisha Bosma, onstage to speak about the three pieces she created for this occasion. The first piece, "Her Majesty," held a prissy air throughout. It was performed with Gabrieli's Canzona. Individually dancers would set in silhouette, back to the audience. The costumes created an alien shape on the dancers, reminiscent of colorful polka-dotted puff pastries. Choreographically the focus seemed to always be on the individual, even throughout the partnering sections. Movement was hard-edged and disconnected from the other members of the quartet. It seemed as each dancer sauntered onstage, arms swinging, they were each vying for more of the audiences' attention, while simultaneously mimicking the choreography of the previous dancer. Perhaps "Her Majesty" spoke to the flighty superficial behavior of the aristocracy.

The next piece, "For What Was," paired with the music of Bachianas brasileiras No. 5 Aria, by Heitor Villa-Lobos was a passionate duet of two women. Bosma said that this duet was about coping with the human emotion of accepting the loss of a loved one. Despite the fact that it was two women performing, she clearly explained that it was a non-gender specific dance and held universal meaning. The piece, danced by Meisha Bosma and Leah Wrobel, was immediately enticing with extended full lines. The duet was exquisitely rehearsed, demonstrating expert timing. The choreography exhibited a passionate melting continuity from one movement to the next. It reconciled appropriately with the refusal to be abandoned, Bosma struggled trying to drag Wrobel by the foot back to center stage. But Wrobel overcame and broke free, leaving Bosma in solitude.

The last piece, "Sky Kisses Earth," was set to the music of Fantasia concertante on a theme of Corelli, by Michael Tippett. Bosma explained that the inspiration for this piece came from her overwhelmingly busy thoughts upon first listening to the music. She tried to intelligently choreograph the moments in life where calm meets chaos. She referred to the "high and low," as well as the "ebb and flowing." The following quote was printed in the program and offered some insight to the fine line where calm and chaos meets.

"Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." - Anonymous

"Sky Kisses Earth" began as a rapturous cluster of silken colored dancers on stage right, writhing in a pool of light. What begins as competition for sunlight evolves when two dancers find the voice to elope from the group. This gesture gradually inspires a mass migration across the stage scattering dancers like windswept dandelion seeds carrying heartfelt wishes. One reoccurring gesture seemed to carry meaning, a deep plie with elbows resting at thighs, watching and waiting like the eerie calm before a boisterous storm. There were four different color silk gowns, a pair of each color, rippling and flowing, vivaciously swirling like lively paint on this audio-clad canvas. In the effort to unite the seam between calm and chaos, dancers traverse personal struggles to overcome their own physical maladies and discomforts. Notably captivating was dancer, Daniel Zook, who courageously bridled the untamed chaos to truthfully express the human desire for calm and peace in our hearts. His glorious emanation, a distinctive, intangible raw passion, shone beyond the borders of the concert hall on that Sunday afternoon.

Personally, I am always a devout believer in live music paired with live performance. I thought the collaboration for "Euphoria" was an appropriate match and also an intelligent move to mix two potentially unaware audience types, musicians and dancers. I did not feel that it particularly enhanced or detracted from the performance by positioning the orchestra onstage. While the dancers were onstage I did not choose to watch the orchestra upstage of them. I feel that while it was a bold experiment, perhaps the orchestra could have stayed in the pit to allow more space for the dancers on stage, or the directors could have better integrated the two groups' visual appearance to harmonize their visual relevancy. Overall it was an artistically fulfilling experience. For more information about "Euphoria," check out the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Blog.

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