AUDIENCE REVIEW: "Carry a Dream With You" by Jiemin Yang
October 20th, 2021
Carry a Dream With You, an outdoor contemporary dance performance choreographed by Jiemin Yang, offered beauty in all aspects. Gorgeous dancing, live cello music (played by cellist James Acampora), five large, colorful balloons, and a stunning dance space at the Queens Botanical Garden created a whimsical atmosphere. This performance, according to Jiemin, was “inspired by the stories of people who have relocated to New York City to pursue their dreams, goals, and visions.”
Four dancers — Jiemin Yang, Arzu Salman, Sara Pizzi, and Yuxi Liu — entered the Queens Botanical Garden dancing with green, blue, orange, and pink balloons. The dancers wore colored long sleeve shirts (which were a colorful asset to the already vibrant space), long black pants, and black sneakers. They were spread out as they danced, and I was torn on where to look.
The dancers moved mostly separately from one another for the first three minutes of Carry a Dream With You, dancing with their respective balloons as partners. No one ever let their balloon touch the ground. James Acampora played selections of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major from the other end of the grass field, including Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1, G Major, Prelude. Though an extremely famous piece of music, this was the first time I had seen a group of dancers moving to it with balloons, and in such an organic way. As the music ended, I saw the four dancers create a vertical line, holding the balloons above their heads.
The dancers continued to move in a line. A fifth dancer – Nicole Truzzi, wearing a red shirt and holding a yellow balloon – entered the space, to lead the line. Incorporating pauses, waving arms, and a gentle movement quality, Carry a Dream With You’s third section was extremely calming to watch.
The dancers, minus Jiemin, who had taken a seat on one of the Queens Botanical Garden’s benches, danced a large phrase in unison for the first time after they finished this walking pattern. Arzu, Nicole, Sara and Yuxi danced with big, breathy, billowing movements, all the while still carrying their balloons. Though the balloons were large, their movement quality was not hindered. Occasionally the dancers would return to a vertical line pattern, and then disperse back out into the space.
One moment I found charming was when Arzu, Nicole, Sara and Yuxi held their balloons in front of their faces, and then moved the balloon away - all in quick timing, and different directions. I also enjoyed when the dancers stood in a vertical line and took turns stepping to their right, while waving their balloons in a canon. The scene was a colorful wave.
Yuxi Liu, dancing with her green balloon, separated herself from the group soon after the wave moment. I loved her circular movement quality as she twirled across the space with as much fluidity as the ocean, every so often incorporating pauses in her solo. At one moment she descended to her knees, still holding her green balloon, and hinged backwards with it. Her dancing had a beautiful sense of abandon, while still remaining under her control.
Coincidentally, an airplane flew across the sky as Yuxi was dancing. The sight of the flying balloon juxtaposed with the soaring plane was stunning. Although this was obviously not choreographed or planned, it reminded me of the beauty of dancing in outdoor, public spaces. Beautiful accidents happen constantly.
Sara Pizzi took the space after Yuxi exited; holding an orange balloon, it appeared as if Sara were dancing with the sun. Sara’s stunning, long lines allowed her to eat up the space as she danced. At times, it appeared that she was listening to her balloon, as she often held it to her ear as she held her movements.
When dancers were not dancing, they sat on the white park benches and held their balloons in their laps. The balloons mostly covered the seated dancers, so it appeared as if the balloons were seated independently.
Arzu Salman danced a solo next, with extremely deliberate walking patterns and turns. Followed by Nicole Truzzi, Nicole also appeared to be dancing with the sun, as she held a yellow balloon. I enjoyed how Nicole manipulated her balloon as she jumped, descended to the floor, and danced with small, isolated movements. Jiemin entered the space by bouncing his blue balloon on his head, keeping it off of the ground all the while. It reminded me of a game I used to play as a child, trying not to let a balloon touch the floor. The music for Jiemin’s solo was the most driving yet, and his movements matched the music quality. Percussive, driven, and expansive, Jiemin also swirled his balloon about in a large, dynamic way.
All five dancers reentered the dance space by bouncing their balloons on their heads. They also brought back another vertical line, leaning against their balloons and each other as they walked forward. The music sounded somber, but with an air of hope to it, as the dancers continued walking.
They waved their balloons in circles, spread out, and took the space for a final unison movement. The dancers had gathered near the location where James Acampora played, as if they were all drawn to a calling that lead them to where they should be pursuing their dreams. Before I knew it, the dancers had formed a horizontal line, rather than vertical, and raised the balloons above their heads gracefully, looking to the clouds. These balloons may be the dreams that Jiemin is referring to in the piece’s title; something to protect, honor, and carry along with you, wherever you go.