AUDIENCE REVIEW: "Entwine" by Jiemin Yang
July 19-20, 2019
Jiemin Yang’s Entwine made its Brooklyn premiere on July 19th and 20th, 2019 at The Mark O’Donnell Theater at the Actors Fund Arts Center in New York City. It was presented in First Look, hosted by Brooklyn Ballet.
Entwine is a seven-minute duet, danced brilliantly by Angie Lu and Iren Kamyshev. This serene, sweeping piece was standout because of Angie and Iren’s connection to each other. This was achieved both by choreographic structure and their personal performance quality. Whether dancing in close proximity or in opposite corners of the stage, their energy, focus and intent matched each other constantly.
Also contributing to Entwine’s peaceful, yet driving, quality is the original score, composed by Long Island based musician James Acampora. The score, which has three distinct “sections,” correlates with the shifts in choreographic structure and lighting onstage. These notable shifts reflect the close collaboration between Jiemin and James.
Angie and Iren begin the dance in separate corners, under spotlights - Angie dancing downstage right, Iren on a diagonal from her partner dancing upstage left. Angie wears a white short-sleeve top and red loose pants, while Iren wears a red short-sleeve top and white loose pants. This red and white color scheme represents the purity and intensity of their relationship.
Angie is also dancing with a pure, white fan in her downstage right corner. She is the first to move under her spotlight – her stance is large and bold, yet I feel her emit a certain respect, or awe, to the fan she dances with. This is because Entwine was inspired by Lisa See’s novel titled The Snow Flower and the Secrete Fan. The story tells of two laotongs, or sworn sisters bonded for eternity, who exchange messages through writing the secret nu shu, or women’s language on fans in 19th Century China.
Angie, after about a minute of dancing, sets the fan down in her downstage corner, and she and Iren walk towards one another. They begin to walk around each other in a circle, echoing the curve of the white fan. Angie and Iren arrive close together, and begin a fluid duet with more physical contact. Their movement is rich with lunges, intertwining arms (which look like intricate knots), and supple arm waves that remind me of a bird flying, or the wave of an ocean.
When Angie and Iren arrive together, I notice a shift in the music – when the dancers were separate, the music had a warm and spritely mood. It shifted to a slower, driving tempo. The dancers’ movement becomes more angular, though they still incorporate the occasional arm wave. They descend to the floor and resume their supple quality. Angie and Iren are center stage during their duet, and dance without the fan. I wondered if this separation from the fan indicated a glimpse into the other parts of their life; into responsibilities as women in their time. Their transitions are seamless - they roll, they swing their legs, they turn their heads sharply, and they swirl with ease.
Angie and Iren separate again to downstage right and upstage left corners. Iren picks up the fan. She walks with it upstage, quite slowly, while Angie dances rapidly in the opposite corner. Iren and Angie arrive together once more and resume their duet, this time with the fan. I notice the third section of the music, and the stage lighting becomes warm like the red of their costumes. The music, lighting and costumes indicate intensity. Angie and Iren’s partnering also becomes more vigorous.
This rapid swell of energy settles, resolving in silence. The two are holding the white fan open, and upside down. Angie and Iren are standing on opposite sides of the fan in deep lunges, with their arms holding the fan stretched. It is a very balanced image. They are in such angular positions, while the fan maintains its curved shape. Angie and Iren then stand up, standing very close together. They put their heads together as they stand holding the fan. The lights fade to black. I was left with the impression that I witnessed something very personal, and very complete.
Author: Kristen Hedberg
Photo Credit: Kyunguk Kim