Mixed Choices at Chanterelle

Written by Irene Beausoleil

127th St. Dance
Photo by Joseph Lambert

It’s difficult to bring a multitude of artists, especially dancers, to any single consensus. Perhaps stylistic differences between the choreographers of the Chanterelle concert at Velocity’s Founder’s Theater on Friday, November 30, 2012 prompted the producers to open with the unifying, contemplative dance, Illumination. Choreographer and dancer Kristen Kridelbaugh interspersed eastern-influenced knee bends with spoken text and ritual candle lighting. Unfortunately these extra effects distracted from her attempt to integrate influences from Indian, Spanish, and Belly dancing. Pink gerbera daisies in green bottles created a frame around the tunic-clad Kridelbaugh, whose close rapid movements, a curious mix of ballet and yogic postures, seemed conservative. An ambitious piece, Illumination contained a few too many ideas for a single work.  

Deathbed, choreographed by Katy Hagelin and Jonathan Hansen, provided a visceral opportunity to enjoy technically challenging choreography. It told the story of a young man who retrospectively experienced his own death, following him through the five stages of Freudian grief. The hero, played by Sylvain Boulet, conceived his own death from under a shroud, atop a medical examiner’s table complete with a toe tag. After a desperate solo with huge extensions and incomprehensibly long balances, Boulet flashed back to the office environment that dominated his life where he was tormented by technological isolation from his coworkers and automated routines. In Accolade, a duet both choreographed and performed by Hagelin and Hansen, the two created many subtle moments. Their natural facility and excellent execution of contemporary ballet vocabulary complemented the narrative of discovering companionship amidst isolation. A wonderful use of breath initiated their sweeping extensions and weightless caresses which flowed into soft, downy landings from even the most challenging lifts. Also noteworthy were the fantastic use of levels and smooth transitions seen in both their works.

SERENDIP dance company
Photo by Michelle Smith Lewis

Members of SERENDIP Dance presented choreographer Sarah Kathryn Olds’ piece, murTOWN, an investigative work that utilized repetitive postures amongst other narrative clues. The audience was immediately captivated by their haughty, ritualistic motions and layered costumes of corsets, long skirts, feathered hats, and veils. The ensemble wove together gestures with hand patterns, gradually larger weight changes, and rather precarious partnering work. Beginning at a glacial pace, the slow start built into a layered relationship surrounding the soloist, her male partner, and the rest of the ensemble. The duet section focused on the use of negative space and a contentious exchange of control between partners. The group used a grounded sense of weight, moving about the stage with confidence in their feet, but not in their faces. It was, unfortunately, quite obvious when the dancers were confused about timing, and became a great distraction from Olds’ rich movement vocabulary and nuanced narrative.

Barbara Caioli took a big bite when she choreographed La Colpa `e Tua for the 127th St. Dance Company, and the group demonstrated massive technical skill and devotion in their execution. A raw athleticism emanated from the piece, heightened by their silvery, futuristic costumes and daring use of space. The heavily rhythmic music, composed and performed by popular DJ Modeselektor, was emphasized by Caioli’s use of contrasting and nuanced timing. Specific, fluid, raw, and confidently excellent, the dancers showed a commitment to risky jumps and massive falls which made them both intimidating and fun to watch. The same was true of 127th St.’s second piece, Assimilation, Part 1 choreographed by Rochelle Rapaszky. Here, the strength and control of the dancers was apparent as the choreography gradually brought them together in one aggressively deliberate unit. There was a whiff of a desire to prove their capability through complicated lifts and use of balance, but the more fascinating part was their focus and sense of intention. By the end, they had evolved into an almost visible hive-mind that demanded compliance and obedience by the accuracy of the dancers and the complete attention of the audience.

Chanterelle hosted a multitude of voices, some of which spoke more clearly than others. So much variation naturally allowed viewers to connect with certain pieces over others. What made the works presented by 127th St. and Hagelin and Hansen so compelling were their unambiguous intentions and technically devoted dancers. Both groups showed a sense of deliberation and focus in their work, though everyone who performed took full advantage of the moment to show their best selves. Overall, Chanterelle provided young companies with a fantastic opportunity to investigate and dig deeper into new directions with renewed purpose.