IMPRESSIONS: Chuck Wilt/UNA Productions’ “COLORING” at 92Y
October 4, 2019
Choreographer: Chuck Wilt
Dancers: Rebecca Margolick, Jennifer Payán, Kyle Filley, Maximillion Canion, Dasol Kim, Alisya Razman Adam, Courtney Mazaika, Rose Nylons,
Musicians/composers: Melanie Charles, Haley Williams
Composers: Mike Wall, Nicholas Britell, Nils Frahm, Plastic Bertrand
Inspired by themes of identity and unity, Chuck Wilt/UNA Productions’ evening-length COLORING asks the question, “What do we have in common?” All you need is love, of course. That, along with connections and independence, is one answer based on viewing the premiere of COLORING at 92Y.
The company’s synergy and honesty are its most winning aspects. Wilt and his dancers offer a collaborative, self-affirmative experience, tracing emotions from a collective slump to disco-fever exuberance. Flautist/vocalist Melanie Charles and cellist/drag queen Rose Nylons open the concert with a somber cello/flute duet with the dancers heaped on top of each other on the floor. Charles closes it singing “Higher & Higher.”
Much of the dance has a natural, primal quality. Foreheads meet and linger; the performers sprint and pause as one, much as a herd might. The music stops as they bend over to pound the floor in rhythm. Rather than aiming to dazzle the audience with virtuosic steps, patterns, and partnering, the company holds our attention with their sensitivity to each other and their meditative focus.
Color distinguishes the multiple segments. While the group all switches to the same hue (from black to pastels) in simple leotards and soft pants, sometimes a man and sometimes a woman wear a token dress. Divertissements — solos, duos, trios — keep the flow going during the costume changes. In one solo, Rebecca Margolick, often riveting with her feline strength, kisses her shoulders and then unabashedly showers herself with affection.
Wilt gives off the vibe of a long-distance runner who trains assiduously. With a BFA in dance from NYU Tisch, he’s been presented in venues in both California and New York. A tall artist who giddily loves what he is doing, he is dwarfed by his cellist Nylons both in stature and presence.
Why he chose to book-end his work with the two musicians and juxtapose the over-the-top drag style — eyelashes long enough to cast a shadow, glam-teased ‘60s wig, mesh stockings, and short hot pants — with the understated, braless innocence of the dancers is not clear. Perhaps he will weave these two lifestyles together in a sequel?