Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Trenza: Reviewing NYC Dance

This past Tuesday I witnessed beautiful performances at Dixon Place in NYC--Bella Dona Dansa, a showcase of dance choreographed by Latin American woman. I am detailing Trenza, the peice choreographed by Rebeca Medina and performed by the choreographer, Maggie Bennet and Carly Czach.
Trenza means braid in Spanish
I sit in enfolded darkness and view a female figure dressed in a long, airy skirt carefully laying out large sheets of white paper. She begins at the right side of the stage floor and continues across to the left. The sense of mystery is palpable and echoes in the silence of the room. (There was no music.) It's amazing how a lack of music changes the feeling of the dance.
Minutes pass as the paper setting continues. Another dancer steps into the scene and begins dropping cassette looking film onto the paper. This tape is coming from a small wooden box she holds. She continues slowly, until she gets to the end of the paper trail. There stands a small chair with a flower upon it,  and she places the box beside the plant.

Music comes from the box! The scene is set, the music is on. The two dancers are lying on the floor together in the upper right hand segment of the stage.  They begin to tumble and flip; it's a beautiful interplay of bodies--there is a child-like playfulness to it, but a grace and sensualness as well. This is the dance of life; slipping, sliding together, stepping and stumbling. The fumbles occur when the music hits sad, low notes--a beautiful and appropriate pairing of music and movement.

The two dancers continue this way while the music plays on and the film is wound tighter and tighter. My guess is that the dance will stop when the film ends...the flower on the chair falls off and both women go and restore it to its rightful place. I find it poignant that this is done organically--(I found out beforehand that although the structure and concept of the dance were planned and rehearsed, much of it was contact improvisation during the performance).

A third dancer steps in and weaves herself into this kinetic interplay. The first two dancers are on the floor and the third is stepping only on the hands of the other two to move across the floor. They continue to move like this, almost gliding, and it is so fun and interesting to watch.  Then, all rise together and and fold into each other like a braid--this was such a beautiful part--they stood side by side and one dancer would fold, abdomen over legs, and another dancer would gently pick her up and move her to another spot in the line. This repeated until each had changed spots--it was beautiful and a weaving, tapestry like motion. 

The pace changes, the speed picks up (as does the music). The dancers begin moving at a faster pace. They're smiling at each other and perhaps at what is happing. (That charming, child-like amusement again.) They are running and tugging and pulling at each other, they go up, they go down, they link together, and so a movement from one affects everything else. Then, as the film is wound tighter, the first two dancers take their places in line, stepping upon the white paper, slowly following this string of film while the last dancer is frantically rushing about--until she too comes and joins the rank before the music stops.
This dance was delightful and innovative; the use of color, movement, props--all done with creativity, playfulness, but also a subtle and evocative knowing about the dance of life...the tugs, the dips, that rhythm we all know that includes peaks and valleys. I am excited to see what else the talented Rebeca Medina choreographs and this group creates. Bravo!

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