(Photo: AEON Contemporary Dance in SKELETONS. Photo by Joseph Lambert)
AEON Contemporary Dance performed SKELETONS, their first annual winter performance, this past weekend, December 16-17th, at VelocityDanceCenter. AEON’s choreographer and director, Joseph Schanbeck, introduced his dancers as “wonderful and fierce.” His dancers surpassed this introduction by utilizing their knowledge of technique to execute Schanbeck’s movement with precision and intelligence.
The company embraced the use of dramatics through their music selection and movement vocabulary without getting lost in the melodramatic potential inherent in certain gestures. The hint of the tortured face was absent when a dancer grabbed at her head, making the gesture more interesting, mysterious, and convincing of its emotional connotation.The dancers executed the jazzy contemporary material with true understanding of their bodies. It is evident that these dancers want and love to use their bodies to the purpose they have set them to.
The eleven works in the concert were all fairly short in duration. Though each created a small glimpse into a different world, towards the end, the movement similarities within each piece started to blend those worlds. Costuming also became predictable with booty shorts as the garb of choice. The striking use of lighting served to deepen Schanbeck’s choreography. AEON’s lighting/tech director, Erin Simpson made masterful, intelligent lighting choices one after another. The lighting had an evolution within each piece that was particular to the needs of the movement. Though clearly thought out, Simpson’s lighting choices displayed an intuitive nature evident in each piece.
Schanbeck possesses a natural skill at inventing movement that is incredibly engaging of both dancer and audience. His body cries out to move in a way particular to him alone, but which still amazingly translates to his “fierce” ladies. The movement invention could be endless. It is for this reason that his use of prescribed movement choices seemed like fillers. With Schanbeck’s passion and invention, his dancers’ strength and ability, and deeper investigation into longer pieces that go further than scratching the surface of an experience or emotion, AEON would be an experience no one could resist.