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AUDIENCE REVIEW: rogue wave presents “Bouquet”
October 8, 2023
Choreography: Catherine Messina in collaboration with the dancers
Lighting: Catherine Messina, run by Daniel Ricardo Rocha
Dancers: Ashley Cassetta, Emily Hoff, Catherine Messina, Mayu Nakaya, Rebecca Neish, Emmy Wildermuth
Often viewed as ephemeral and delicate, a bouquet of flowers may not initially bring resilience to mind. However, choreographer Catherine Messina proves otherwise with poignant and thought provoking work: Bouquet.
Hundreds of rose petals fill the stage, beckoning each viewer into the textured and tactile world Messina has created. Massive flowers adorn the back walls of The Tank’s 98-seat theater. Dancers slowly take the stage spilling more petals from their hands. Then, just as we have been coaxed into their universe, Bouquet begins.
Within Bouquet and many of the works by Messina’s company rogue wave, neuroscience is utilized in conjunction with movement to unpack the ways we move through the world. Bouquet focuses on epigenetics and how behaviors and environments can affect us genetically. Using the metaphor of a bouquet, this work follows the research of Dr. Thomas Boyce who categorizes children as dandelions, orchids, and tulips to demonstrate their adaptability to change. An orchid child is one who proves very sensitive to their environment, a dandelion child more resilient, with tulips falling somewhere in the middle. Messina asks us to contemplate where we each fall within the bouquet as well as how we impact one another.
Bouquet starts from a place of tenderness and care, delicately exploring the blooming space. Emerging from all sides, the space and movement alike become fleshy and real. The work is three dimensional, coming off the stage into the house on numerous occasions and engaging the audience in a palpable way. A tension holds the audience with bated breath as the first duet begins.
Known for her intricate contemporary partnering, Messina exceeds expectations with evocative gestural movement and exquisite partnered pathways. Throughout the work the company manages to maintain delicate and curious tones while also engaging in acrobatic and high energy partnering work. A motif of trust falls serves as a physical throughline of the piece, a metaphor for the ways we cover one another's lapses and impact each other's development. With every fall the dancers caught one another with grace and intention, creating safety and community even in moments of chaos or danger. After every fall there was always a recovery, a way to rise again. It seemed as though the dancers were tending to each other as if they were a garden, watering seeds and taking care. Messina combines detailed phrase work with contact work, suggesting that we can grow beyond our prescribed labels and experience resilience through connection with others. The scientific themes behind the piece are physicalized beyond just a written concept, a spoken preamble, or a program note, but were brought to life with every collective breath.
The piece arcs with a pivotal solo by Mayu Nakaya. A change from the meditative and thoughtful work to buoyant, charged choreography with flawless execution. The other dancers witness and observe, redefining togetherness and support with their gaze. As the piece continues a sense of urgency arises with dancers moving through more fearless contact work, experimenting with negative space, and fitting into the larger bouquet that is their community.
Throughout the work, each of the dancers wade through the sea of petals, at times embracing them, other times questioning them, throwing them, treading upon them, and even trying to clear them away. This thoughtful engagement with the petals requests that we too feel the range of complex emotions that come with experiencing community care and reminding us that while we may be labeled as a dandelion or an orchid, it’s the presence of community care that can help us all to thrive.