Teens@Graham, The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, Photo: Melissa Sherwood
Teens@Graham, The Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, Photo: Melissa Sherwood
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IMPRESSIONS OF: ChristinaNoel Reaves & The Creature

IMPRESSIONS OF: ChristinaNoel Reaves & The Creature
Theo Boguszewski

By Theo Boguszewski
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Published on June 4, 2013

ChristinaNoel & The Creature

Presented by: Teatra LATEA

Choreography: ChristinaNoel Reaves and Dancers

Ben’s Song: performed by Benjamin Wolk, Lonnie Poupard Jr., Jeremy “JAE” Neal, Brendan Duggan : Rapture of the Heroine (guuurrrl): Performed by Clare Cook, Casey Loomis, Liz Beres, Joanna Futral, Tara Nicholas;

Music: This Will Destroy You, Primus, New Villager;Lighting: Greg Goff; Costumes: The Creature


Theo Boguszewski for The Dance Enthusiast

Increasingly, and at varying levels of success, contemporary dance integrates different art forms. ChristinaNoel Reaves and her company of dancers referred to as, The Creature, meld dance, theater and comedy in manner that enriches. Reaves’ performance features two complementary works (Ben’s Song and Rapture of the Heroine (guuurrl) that are accessible enough for children, yet filled with a complexity that will satisfy sophisticated palates.

Upon entering Teatra LATEA we are greeted by dancers costumed and lounging. Some of them drink beer and chat, others hum softly, creating a vibrating energy that immediately charges the room. The space, set up sparsely with a table, chair, mirror and piano, feels more like a room than a “theater”.We feel included.
 

ChristinaNoel Reaves' The Creature in Ben’s Song ; Photo Aeric Meredith Goujon

Ben's Song, the opening piece, explores conflicting facets of masculinity. Four male performers clad in blue and white striped, very “hot” hot pants interact in quick scenes that burst with physicality. Whether the men are great actors or simply good at being themselves is unimportant- their interactions are true to life. We know these guys.

Protagonist, Benjamin Wolk, grunts and punches the air in senseless anger. In another scene, he charmingly courts a blushing female audience member. Later, he endears while performing a half rambling, half insightful speech about the beauty and wisdom of children. We listen intently.
 
ChristinaNoel Reaves' The Creature in Ben’s Song ; Photo Aeric Meredith Goujon

Breathtaking moments of pure movement offer a beautiful contrast to the comic absurdity. And, the opportunity to see four talented men move together is thrilling, especially when watching smaller start up dance companies. (Good men are hard to find and most are employed by larger groups.) In Ben’s Song the fellows exhibit prowess, not only in comedic skill but also in the ready ability to morph from “dudes” to sensual animals sweeping across the space.
 

ChristinaNoel Reaves' The Creature in Rapture of the Heroine (guuurrl) ; Photo Aeric Meredith Goujon

The second piece of the afternoon, Rapture of the Heroine (guurrrl), a tribute to female camaraderie, investigates shades of femininity with humor and insight. Here, five women embody opposing qualities: those traits of stunning goddesses versus the habits of high-strung school girls.

As a group the women are chatty, vivacious and occasionally trivial. We watch benign conversation take place over a table of food when, suddenly, hostess instincts kick in and the women begin to offer us food. A familiar cattiness descends upon some interactions yet rapidly dissipates as the women nurture each other in a distinct and mothering way.

ChristinaNoel Reaves' The Creature in Rapture of the Heroine (guuurrl) ; Photo Aeric Meredith Goujon

Throughout Rapture … a chorus of shrieks and moans, sounding at once sexual, joyous and hysterical, punctuates the spacious score. We hear the din of cats in heat and are reminded of teenagers getting ready to go out for the evening – tones obnoxious and endearing.
 

ChristinaNoel Reaves' The Creature in Rapture of the Heroine (guuurrl) ; Photo Aeric Meredith Goujon

Joanna Futral, a vision straight out of a classic movie musical, dances alone in a ballroom. We feel the breeze flowing lightly from the windows as we revel in her mystery. Furtral removes her gown and the piano lilts in the background. Stunning. In complete contrast, Tara Nicholas, another soloist, erupts into hysterics. She kicks and screams flailing her limbs while babbling over and over, "I am always….," but her sentence never reaches completion. Visceral memories of childhood temper tantrums spring to mind.

Reaves has created her own distinct brand of dance theater, and she’s on to something.
 
 

 

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