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AUDIENCE REVIEW: NewBrese Dance Project presents "The Hand You're Dealt (excerpt 1)"
NewBrese Dance Project
February 26, 2023
What does it mean to belong?
To become one with your community; to find home in those around you; to join the collective “us;” to have a higher purpose within the sum of a whole. NewBrese Dance Project illustrates these ideas and more in their latest work The Hand You’re Dealt (excerpt 1).
The work opens with a moment of surveying the space in the blackness before the lights come up. As the stage becomes illuminated, dancers begin falling into the space they’ve created, witnessing and observing one another as they topple our expectations of what may come next. Bursts of energy fill the stage with moments of thrashing and flailing. Gestural movements become a staple in the movement vocabulary as the performers work to generate a sense of fatigue. There is a clear explosive energy, but it is executed through contained, almost gentle movements. Bewilderment runs through the dancers as they witness each other come alive.
Emmy Wildermuth, the opening soloist, holds a state of bewilderment and challenges the audience to see the world from her point of view. It’s as though she has existed in a vacuum until she was placed on stage and is experiencing humankind for the first time. As she copies the other dancers’ mannerisms she begins to assimilate, forcing the other performers to question their humanity as well. Between her captivating expressions and command of the character, Emmy’s outstanding performance helped build the world for the audience and keep them connected to the throughline of the piece.
The Hand You’re Dealt (excerpt 1) was made in collaboration with the dancers, and while collaborative work runs the risk of lacking cohesion, this work brought together the dancer’s individual voices through vignettes while also staying true to its internal mission. It was clear that all of the artists were united under a common goal and were dedicated to bringing that vision to life. The dancers worked together to explore reality as it shifts and changes under the pressure of time.
NewBrese Dance Project, directed by Sawyer Newsome and Rachel Calabrese, carefully cultivated a sense of intimacy and otherness simultaneously throughout the work. Their interchange between solos, partnering, and group phrase work was seamless and effective. As the work reached its end, the dancers found moments of embrace as though they were protecting one another from their humanity and leaving the audience with a shared desire to connect.
The Hand You’re Dealt (excerpt 1) was performed in the Balance Arts Center Winter 2023 Performance Showcase, program B, on February 26th, 2023 alongside five other New York City arts companies. These companies included Wilder Project, Sam Baker and Kellsee Lynch, Danielle E. Moore, Sophia Salingaros, and Anna Patterson.
NewBrese Dance Project presented a strong excerpt of their work, and I look forward to seeing the full work in its upcoming premiere.