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Matthew Neenan

Performance Date:
May 27, 2021

Freeform Review:

A world premiere by Matthew Neenan, “Re-Entering,” featured the site specific dance form in a musical fantasia throughout the Annenberg Center Performing Arts. We have all been missing the experience of gathering together to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Annenberg Center. Society as we knew it, and  in the diversity of programming serving regional audiences, believe it, that these spaces are not the same without us.

Starting with a solo, by Caili Quan, whom also released a film for the Center for Asian American Media Festival showing the culture of Guam. Here she is flexing her whole body in the direction of the “Emergency Exit” route. Spanning out in a glowing neon light from the dull fluorescent lighting of the loading dock corridor is Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan and Michael Trusnovec.

Not only are we re-entering the sanctuary of the theater, backstage was a backdrop of steel and cement, accompanied by music that would make the Summer Billboard Hits 2021, but this dance showed how these artists are mentally prepared for a return to the stage as the moral message for this choreopher mentions in the post talk.

Behind the scenes with a reality, cinematic lens, which brings to mind “The World”, written and directed by Jia Zhangke released in 2004. 

It is about actual travel and experiences rather than a simulated effect of a replica of the world as the theme park called, Winodw of the World, in Shenzhen, China. I tie this in to illustrate the idea of how wonderful the dancers move through the infrastructure of the Annenberg Center.

Sarah-Gabrielle's dance on the stairways around the doors to inside the Annenberg theater using an anthem of "The Broken Social Scene", peaked our sensory response to any quarantine story. Joined by Trusnovec and Quan who lead us to this climax with a dazzling Italian serenade called, “La Strada” by ILaria Graziano and Francesco Forni.

Their gesture reached out and extended the feeling of being in this space given the limits and restrictions made by COVID-19. To the extent of holding up the walls, Trusnovec clings to the cement walls circumambulating the theater.

Moving quickly, each stage is an alternative space. Even more so, Telmo Moreira captured the black void, of dark stages everywhere.

Telmo's promenade strutted, swiveled hips, and a debauchery of steps to the Hawaiian influences with a natural island sounds in Paka Ua, by Ozzi Kontani and Daniel Ho.

 While in the Harold Prince black box theater noticably a smaller arrangement of seats the dancers move up and over the aisles, sit down and exchange salutations like an audience normally would, but in a movement as if they played a giant keyboard.

It goes to show how truly important the audience plays a part in this infrastructure.

All of this culminated in the end to the four dancers spread out amongst themselves, and they had gone out of frame in a series of phrases. The Debussey classic, “Claire De Lune”, heightened this dramatic picture. Concluding this ‘anatomy of dance and the living arts’ with Peggy Lee’s, “Sing a Rainbow” the colors are alive in this dance, and it told us exactly, “listen with your eyes, listen with your eyes, and sing everything you see.”




Chuck Schultz


Photo Credit:
Chuck Schultz

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