Magalhães Explores the Unadorned Feminine in (un)bridaled

Marina Magalhães premiered her most recent dance theater work, (un)bridaled at the colorful and vibrant Le Studio in Culver City on Thursday Sept 18th, 2014. The cast of six women used dance, theater, music and video to question the nature of being young, female and single in Latino culture.

The evening began with a festive feel as Latin flavored dance music pumped through the speaker system. The show opened with a samba-modern dance fusion set to Astrud Gilberto’s famous song “Agua de Beber.” This piece successfully set the tone of the evening. Torsos flowing, hips swaying and feet dancing in samba rhythms, these women were feminine and sensual while maintaining a sense of earthiness that was natural and unadorned. Magalhães has an incredible ability to choreograph dance that elegantly weaves in and out of the music’s rhythmic structure. She adeptly balanced the samba beats with a timeless modern dance feel transitioning between them effortlessly. This ability to seamlessly blend contrasting movement forms reflects her delicate touch seen throughout the show.

The evening length work addressed aspects of Latina culture, immigration, social media, proposals (and denial of proposals), marriage (and denials of marriage), and self worth. A highlight of the show was the irreverent rap that the girls performed in defiance of the status quo. The integration of theatrical dialogue, live vocal performance by Erica Rey and video by Sophia Stoller added presentational value to the performance that made the themes easily accessible for a general audience.

The show was well rehearsed and well performed by the collaborative cast including Stephanie Castro, Rachel Hernandez, Veline Mojarro, Mariana Reis, and Erica Rey. The duet that lead into intermission marked the heaviest moment of the show. These dancers repeatedly posed in darling tableaus before morphing their saccharine smiles into pained expressions of fear, anger, and despair. The repetition of this pattern gave the audience time to experience the transformation of the dancers away from presentational joy and into a hidden inner torture. The result was a very heavy entrance into intermission in which the audience sat in silence for minutes before reluctantly breaking the deep sorrow of the moment.

Returning from a short intermission, the work lightened in tone as Magalhães spoke casually with the audience inviting four male volunteers onto the stage to play the role of the “proposing man” in an interactive audience participation experiment. The video following the proposal game captured the computer screen of a single woman surfing the internet. She narrated her thoughts as she clicked through social media sites only to be assailed by a barrage of images and advertisements from the ubiquitous wedding industry at every turn. The cynical commentary got the audience laughing as many seemed to identify with the feeling that “everyone around them is getting married!”

The show continued with an energetic Afro-Brazilian duet that lead into a finale style group piece. The final piece included a return of thematic movement material presented earlier in the show. Despite the physical release in the dancers’ performance due to their incredible exertion, a heaviness remained. This final dance was not a predictable, simplistic celebration of feminine power, the dancers performed with flat expressions in a style that was reminiscent of ritual world dance forms rather than conventional female empowerment. The lights dimmed slowly on the spinning figures leaving the audience with many unanswered questions about the certainty of these women’s futures.

(un)bradaled is the type of contemporary dance work that utilizes current culture to make a statement about universal and timeless issues. It is refreshing to see work that has a clear social message without being didactic. Magalhães was able to elucidate the plight of young Latina women without having to find the answers to all of her questions. I recommend all young adults to see this show, both women and men whether Latino or not, because this work is the type of show that keeps concert dance- which is too often misunderstood and underappreciated- relevant in our lives.

unbridaled

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