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AUDIENCE REVIEW: Alison Cook Beatty Dance at Gibney Dance
Alison Cook Beatty Dance
November 17th - 19th, 2016
Let me say, as a member of the audience I feel it is the audience’s responsibility to try to decipher, understand, what the artist is trying to impart in their interpretation or expression of something they heard, saw or felt. This is an imperative. These are not simply dancers on a stage performing dance moves. These dancers are the visualization of that interpretation or expression.
The first performance was Lifeline. All 3 nights of this performance were expressed by 3 separate set of dancers. During this performance, you experienced the joys of love, of a relationship, of being one with another. It was a sensual piece as the dancers performed it, the slow movements of their closeness. At the same time, you understood the frustration of a relationship, perhaps not always being on the same page as their partner or their partner not being on the same page as them but still they love the other person, their closeness, their relationship. This piece left me with a feeling of love bubbling, the feeling of falling in love, the infatuation. I quite enjoyed the serenity of the performance while understanding that love is not always easy.
The second performance was Patience Impatience. Again, all 3 nights of this performance were expressed by 3 separate set of dancers. Honestly, I had trouble understanding this piece even after watching it the 3 nights. While the sounds of the ocean were soothing to me as I’ve lived near the ocean my whole life, the waves, people on the beach, bells of the buoys, I could not grasp the meaning of the weights and rope-lines or even the dancers as they struggled against the ropes or perhaps struggled with the ropes. The backdrop of the music and the sounds of people on a beach lent to the feeling of the ocean, again soothing, but then you heard screams of terror from perhaps those same people on the beach. It did not mesh with my thoughts of those soothing sounds of the ocean so I asked one of the performers what the piece represented. Patience and impatience is the simplest answer, that our lives perhaps are spent in the endless pursuit of patience while our impatience, the rope-lines, at times gets the better of us. This piece was very interesting and I am hoping to watch this performance again with this understanding so I can mesh my preconceived notion of my feelings for the ocean with this explanation.
The third performance was Becoming Another. This is one of my most favorite dances and I call it “The Adam and Eve Dance”, in my mind this is what it will always represent. The backdrop of the commentary, the dialogue, is essential to this performance, I would not use the word “paramount” as the dance in and of itself is beautiful as is the story and you can certainly understand everything the performers impart. But the dialogue of both Adam and Eve enhance the performance to such a degree as to be captivating. When I first saw this dance a number of months ago it was the “Reader’s Digest” version I guess you could call it. Adam’s commentary from his diary in trying to understand this new creature that has surfaced, not knowing if it is animal or human, is truly spell binding. Watching the performers of this dance in its entirety as they come to understand that both Adam and Eve are human, one being male the other female, living together in the Garden of Eden, understanding that one without the other no matter where they lived was not an existence either wanted after a time, coming to appreciate each other and understand each other… Such a wonderful, spell binding, fascinating story and it being translated into a dance is truly magical to watch. If ever you, the reader, have the chance to watch this dance please do, it offers such an amazing interpretation of this story, of these characters, I just love it. Again, one of my most favorite dances.
The fourth performance was Manifestations. The story behind this dance is just so sad, truly heartbreaking. This performance is about the Shaking Quakers, and their religion apparently dictated that there be no physical contact, actual touching, of another person. I’m extrapolating that when they prayed it entailed them actually shaking their bodies in what could only be described as convulsive shaking. You open to the community praying with their palms turned towards heaven, very structured, very strict. As the story develops one in the community, the Son, is drawn to another, the Outsider, even as the Mother tries to chase away the Outsider. There is clearly a connection between the Son and the Outsider and eventually they touch, holding each other. The look of amazement, of joy, of finally a love, was so exquisitely expressed by the Son that I as the observer felt the Son’s loneliness and isolation in those moments. The Mother having observed some of this turned away in disappointment or maybe shame. She at times expressing that she understood that they loved each other but that their religion did not allow for this touching, for this love, that their religion was paramount to their existence as a community. The dancers that portrayed these 3 characters did so with so much passion, with such conviction of their personal part in the story that I as the observer was just dragged, not drawn but dragged, into the story that I held my breath in anticipation of what will happen next, questioning why and how could people be so intolerant, un-understanding, not allow for happiness in life. The struggle of the Son wanting this person whom he loved and yet not wanting to disappoint or lose his Mother was absolutely palpable to me. Such an incredibly sad story. The first night’s performance I thought, like I’m sure many in the audience thought and perhaps still do, this was about a man falling in love with another man and this was why the Son and the Outsider were persecuted. This is not what this story, this dance, is about. By the third’s night performance, I understood this was a community that just did not have any happiness in their lives and this is the way they sadly chose to live, with no contact between them. This is my absolute favorite dance because it was so superbly performed, the story so exceptionally expressed, it was so tragically sad yet so thought invoking and so prevalent to today’s society. I cannot say enough of this dance, this story, that would ever give it the credit it is honestly due.
Please visit http://www.alisoncookbeattydance.org/. I have found Alison’s vision to be unique and expressive. I cannot venture to guess where she finds her inspirations for all her work but I find the results of such inspirations rewarding as a viewer. It has been an unbelievable experience to view both her work and the performances of the dancers of this Company. They are truly gifted in their talents and I am absolutely looking forward to more shows from this Company of dancers. I know that I would not have enjoyed the performances as I did without these dancers performing them, they are incredible and should be so proud of themselves for their accomplishments.