Inside the Warehouse: Sixth Day Dance Examines Internal Landscapes

Written by Victoria McConnell

(Photo courtesy of Sixth Day Dance)

 Audience members were immediately immersed in Sixth Day Dance’s “Warehouse Project,”  upon entering the raw industrial-like space of Westlake Dance Center this November 12 and 13. Candle light and dancers lined the hall to the in-studio performance area where Artistic Director Angela Schaefer and company members created an atmosphere of stripped-down simplicity. Clearly a dance company with a mission, Sixth Day Dance’s desire to impact and uplift people played out in their choreography and community outreach at Sunday evening’s performance, with a discount offered to attendees who brought donations for the Lake City Food Bank.

Floating, falling hand gestures and candles initiated movement in Dawn in the Midst of Shadowchoreographed by Assistant Artistic Director Holly Logan. Self-comforting then shoving and swinging arms and hands grew  into full body movements that swirled through the space. These hand and shoulder motions threaded throughout the piece, as dancers wrestled with internal fears and external choices. Still tossed about by her own gestures, the final dancer stepped out of the “cycle that allows ourselves to avoid what is difficult or frightening” (from program notes) to relight her candle and exit. 
Natural Disaster, created by Katie Borthwick (assisted by Schaefer), was unexpected and refreshing in its intensity. The bare stage with only a black wood box, a single dancer, and two flashlights effectively generated an atmosphere of tension, ferocity, and release. Confined to the top of the box, Borthwick intertwined modern dance vocabulary with the angles and vigor of break-dance-styled movement. Illuminated only by rotating flashlights and accompanied by music remixed by Glitch Mob, Natural Disasterarrested the viewers’ attention with alternating imagery of a caged animal and a desperate human outcry.
Mixing athletic movements and emotional rhythms, Schaefer collaborated with the dancers on Box. Driven by text, dancers’ words impelled the piece forward. With “boxes we make for ourselves or others” the focal point from beginning to end, dancers spoke their “boxes” and danced their insecurities in groups, pairs, and solos. Words and movement reached the crescendo as  a dancer trapped behind the wall of boxes prayed for release from self-loathing labels and was then catapulted through the wall to be partnered in the center of the box-littered stage. This dramatic moment was the impetus needed to allow all the dancers to destroy their boxes. Boxculminated in a relieved sigh as the whole company stood atop flattened boxes, literally breaking down their limitations. 
Tesee George of Dance Contemporary choreographed Remember Me, employing the whole company and guest artist Kristina Chamberlain.  Unclear at first, the subtle movements of dancers gradually revealed they were part of the soloist’s internal dialogue. As Chamberlain’s movements woke the company dancers who frenetically hit her like anxious thoughts, shelter came only from partnering with the young man, Julian Young. Confident and centered from the duet with Young, Chamberlain freely explored the space in a fluid adagio of ballet-inspired lines and smooth développés. In the end, the corps attempted, but was unable, to hurl themselves into the now confident soloist, leaving viewers with metaphors of empowerment and safety through relationships. 
Though short in length, the performance did not lack in conscientious focus on the up-close stage of “Warehouse Project.” Whether using choreographic concepts, program notes, or props, Sixth Day Dance strives to impart meaning to each piece they present in order to impact the audience and community positively. To find out more about Sixth Day Dance’s community involvement and upcoming performances, visit www.sixthdaydance.org.