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AUDIENCE REVIEW: Questioning Conclusions: Mark DeGarmo Dance Salon Series
Mark DeGarmo Dance Salon Series presents Marian Koytsan, Kathy Luo, Emilee Lord and sarAika Movement
May 4, 2023
Mark DeGarmo Dance’s Virtual Salon Performance Series for Social Change presented the final salon of the season on May 4, 2023, showcasing four original works choreographed by four contemporary artists. This thoughtfully curated collection of works represented a varying spectrum of performance and choreographic styles.
The performance opened with Marian Koytsan’s water inspired duet, “Thermocline.” The piece was driven by smooth athleticism, rolling floor work and sweeping traveling steps. Koytsan and dance partner, Jenna Romanavitch, invited the audience to enter an intimate exchange through their movement. The floorwork required a fierce agility of the two dancers as they moved up and down against the stark black backdrop with an ease of flow and prowess in navigating vertical space. The dancers were often connected through physical contact, unison movement or simply a glance through the expanse. The moments in which the two were not connected created a contrast in the dynamics of the relationship. As the piece concluded, I questioned whether the relationship would sustain through time.
Kathy Luo’s “Dialogue” was a kinetic conversation. The talk started between two dancers and then moved to quartets, before continuing with various pairings of dancers who spoke to each other in a language that alternated between fluidity and sharpness. The choreographer continued to play with opposing dynamics and movement tempos by presenting an ebb and flow of motions that contained these changes within short phrases. Although these short phrases were connected by entrances and exits, conversations were left unresolved. The dancers seemed to be searching for something. The music, continuously building, amplified the sense of searching. The dancers possessed a quiet impelling desire to find a resolution to their search. In the end, the lights went to black, but the search was not concluded.
Emilee Lord choreographed and performed her solo “As Above So Below.” The piece was soul baring, intimate and personal. At times I thought I was witnessing something that I should not - a deeply private awakening that I had unwittingly stumbled upon. The piece undoubtedly resonated with many people, as it questioned not only religion, but the culture in which one is raised. The quietness of subtle movements was a contrast to the contemptuously spoken words. Another layer of questioning was added as Emilee painted her body with black paint while speaking. Each stroke was intentional, yet at the same time questioning. This piece also concluded without resolution. Questions were left unanswered.
The title of the final piece, “You Don’t Have to Love Me, Just Accept Me,” choreographed by sarAika Movement, felt particularly poignant in today’s culture. The intensity of the dancing expressed the importance of the idea behind the title. The sharpness of the dancing matched the sharpness of music. This mimicking of sound through movement was quite effective, as the music worked to amplify the motions. The black box arena in which the dancers performed was small. The square container acted as a prison for the dancers, who struggled with labored movement to escape. In the end the dancers did not escape confinement. The struggle did not find a finale, leaving me wondering if this piece had a part two.
This evening of dance left me questioning conclusions. What is final? How does one reach resolution? Who holds the answers?