“Squint, And Remake the World” Dance Review by Mary Marsh

"Squint, And Remake the World" - Photos by Stephen Mallett.  Sept. 2014.

“Squint, And Remake the World” – Photos by Stephen Mallett. Sept. 2014.

"Squint, And Remake the World" - Photos by Stephen Mallett.  Sept. 2014.

“Squint, And Remake the World” – Photos by Stephen Mallett. Sept. 2014.

Dance Performance at ARC Pasadena (JKTL & MeCo). Photo by Stephen Mallett.

Dance Performance at ARC Pasadena (JKTL & MeCo). Photo by Stephen Mallett.

"Squint, And Remake the World" - Photos by Stephen Mallett.  Sept. 2014.

“Squint, And Remake the World” – Photos by Stephen Mallett. Sept. 2014.

Dance Review
Dance / Performance Art

Squint, and Remake the World
Dance Performance

By Jessica Kondrath | The Movement (JKTM)
Megill & Company (MeCo)
with Guest Choreographer Robbie Cook

Reviewed by Mary Marsh
September 2014

Behind three small, brushed-metal letters, ARC, three choreographers (Beth Megill, Jessica Kondrath, and Robbie Cook) joined forces to present Squint, and Remake the World (Sept. 27-28th). This ballet-infused modern dance collaboration includes unexpected improv and live music. The show was at once extremely technical, yet delightfully eclectic and utterly original. In short, it was memorable. How many performances do you really remember years later? This is a show that promises to be…one of those.

ARC (A Room to Create) on Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena is an intimate theatre. The dancers grace a broad, black stage surrounded by red brick, sublime lighting, and their own purposely-cast shadows courtesy of Stacie O’Hara’s artful lighting design. No unnecessary, structural props. No distractions. No line that separates the audience from the dancers on stage. This is pure Dance. The first row of audience members can touch the stage. In fact, many of them end up on-stage before the end of the show.

The dance performance opens with immense force. From the raw physicality of gymnastic and contortionist movements to infusions of traditional ballet, Kondrath’s “Fleeting” blends dance genres with grace and fluid lyricism. This 25-minute opening work is followed by a brief intermission and then a shift in style as other works are featured.. The dance works vary immensely throughout the evening, since three very distinct choreographers’ works are showcased.

In the second act, Megill’s choreography is featured. The dancers perform broad, sweeping movements followed by purposely robotic, precision movements in “Underneath Scattered Eyelashes.” A soundtrack of a ticking clock plays loudly. It is as if the dancers’ arms are the hands of clocks and time is running out.

Strong solos are performed by Chapparone, Lung, and Bixby, as well as by Kondrath. Robbie Cook is the guest choreographer of “On the Way,” which is danced by Kondrath. Jessica Kondrath utilizes the entire stage in her energetic and passionate modern dance solo. Her intensity is juxtaposed with the soundtrack of a lilting, retro Gershwin tune.

In the structured improvisation piece, “Inside the Vault,” Megill brings several audience members on-stage. Each person stands, holding a piece of string, a metaphor for the fragile strands of memories and the tenuous cellular connections that make memory possible, especially as one ages. All the while, the nostalgic song “Young at Heart” by Tom Waits plays and Megill recites excerpts from My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor (with additional text by Megill). Beth Megill is reminiscent of the great comedian Lucille Ball. Megill is a leader in the dance-comedy genre we’ll just have to call com-e-dance. But she does more than make us laugh. Art often asks questions. This work by Megill poses the question, are we “…thinking creatures who feel or feeling creatures who think?”

“I Still Haven’t Learned How to Dream Wide Awake,” is a collaborative choreography effort between Kondrath and her dancers. This work includes a live score and musical performance by the talented Brian Wood—both saxophone and electric guitar, which he plays live and loops and samples. The dancers and musician seem in perfect harmony. The costumes are spot-on, and the dance evokes dreams, darkness, and a world just beyond our reach.

Kondrath, Megill, and all their dancers are on-stage for “Squint, and Remake the World,” the final piece. This dance work was created by Jessica Kondrath on commission for the Moorpark College Department of Dance. The original, steel-blue costumes are used, which is a perfect choice. The two dance companies move and negotiate space as if they dance together each day. The technical skills and artistic talent are impressive, but the passion for dance is palpable. And that’s essential. Although the show appears to be quite challenging to dance, the works seem to be deeply understood by each performer. And this combination of elements is what will make this dance performance memorable.

Beth Megill and Jessica Kondrath are choreographers, directors of formidable dance companies, and professors of dance, and they remain passionate dancers, as well. These two UC Santa Barbara alumni take to the stage with presence and power. One is reminded of the icon Martha Graham whose career spanned over seven decades. From this perspective, these women are just getting started.

Among the costume highlights, the best are seen in the opening and closing pieces and are the work of Costume Designer Tamara McCarty. McCarty’s striking red and nude-tone, form-fitting garments in the opening work make a powerful statement as the dancers take to the stage in “Fleeting,” choreographed by Jessica Kondrath. McCarty designed flowing, ethereal, steel-blue tone costumes for the closing performance, the show’s namesake, “Squint, And Remake the World.” Jessica Kondrath also scored a win with her costumes for “I Still Haven’t Learned How to Dream Wide Awake.” These costumes are in deep-hued tones that evoke the essence of dreams and darkness.

Choreographer Megill continues to carve her unique dance signature into the consciousness of the community each time her dance company takes center stage. If you’re looking for modern dance, you won’t be disappointed. But unless you’ve seen Megill’s choreography before, you won’t be prepared, either. She’s often whimsical, funny, quirky—in fact “quirky” is in her dance company mission statement. Go ahead and laugh. But be prepared to think, be inspired, and be entertained by dance, music, and spoken word, as well. Megill’s work is often infused with layers of meaning delivered in multiple arts genres. Go to a show. The good new is, you’ll definitely remember the performance for years to come.


Beth Megill is Artistic Director of Megill & Company (MeCo), as well as Moorpark College Dance Faculty. Jessica Kondrath is both Director of Jessica Kondrath | The Movement (JKTM) and Santa Monica College Dance Faculty. Guest choreographer Robbie Cook is Dance Faculty at LMU.

Katie Aggen, Kayla Bixby, Samantha Chapparone, Kimberley Hannah, Shelby LaRosa, Kathryn Lung, Jessica Kondrath, Beth Megill, Michaela Marie Pickett, Brooklynn Reeves, Erin Riddle, and Karissa Smith.

Musician/Composer: Brian Wood
Photographer/Videographer: Stephen Wayne Mallett
Lighting: Stacie O’Hara

Squint, and Remake the World
A collaboration between Jessica Kondrath / The Movement
And Megill & Company (MeCo)
with guest choreography by Robbie Cook of LMU Dance Faculty.

It’s not too late to catch a dance performance. For upcoming events for these two dance companies (including some free and very affordable performances) visit:
megillandcompany.org and jessicakondrathtm.com

Reviewed by Mary Marsh
September 2014

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Categories: Uncategorized

One Comment on ““Squint, And Remake the World” Dance Review by Mary Marsh”

  1. October 6, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    You’re an observant, analytical and engaging reviewer, Mary. Wish I could have been to this one, but you made me feel as though I had!

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