Two dance companies, Jessica Kondrath/The Movement and Megill & Company, provide rich experiences at ARC Pasadena, September 28, 2014

11 October 2014 — PASADENA, CA — Two companies, Jessica Kondrath|The Movement and Megill & Company, co-presented an afternoon of diverse, rich, and entertaining dances ranging from formal contemporary ballet to informal structured improvisation at ARC Pasadena on September 27 & 28, 2014. This collaborative approach to sharing a concert provided multiple voices and variety of dance styles, which proved to be a refreshing event.

Kondrath presented three works, Fleeting, I Still Haven’t Learned How to Dream Wide Awake, and Squint, and Remake the World. Kondrath’s movement across all three works uses a contemporary ballet aesthetic merging ballet lines and shapes blended with clear patterns of body connectivity and plastic floor work, and always with and a cool direct gaze. Clarity of purpose with the body and layered shapes and designs creating a vocabulary that massages the kinesphere is central to her work. Limbs are stretched long, precise, and breath and emotions are often subtle. Kondrath uses space in unexpected ways, dividing planes in the use of the body. A traditional attitude position is twisted and what was once cross-lateral suddenly becomes planar. Fleeting impressed with strong dancing by all the dancers, although Samantha Chapparone especially impressed with her ability to bring breath, tenderness, and phrasing to her touching solo. The bright red corset and short set costumes by Tamara McCarty were elegant and well suited to the choreography. I Still Haven’t Learned How to Dream Wide Awake was a strong trio of solos performed by Kayla Bixby, Shelby LaRosa, and Kathryn Lung set to a live much score performed by Brian Wood. Squint, and Remake the World, by Kondrath, was performed by dancers from both dance companies together. This work was energetic, emotional, and rich with layering, canon, floor work, and expansive use of space. Kondrath’s choice of music by Max Richter suited the dance, but editing choices combined with the compositional structures were at times jarring between shifts in ensembles.

Megill & Company presented two works, Underneath Scattered Eyelashes, and Inside the Vault. Underneath Scattered Eyelashes seemed both serious and tongue-in-cheek at times. Katie Aggen, Beth Megill, Brooklynn Reeves, Erin Riddle, and Karissa Smith performed movements that were serious shapes and lines, at times almost jumping jacks with jabbing motions. Shoulder gestures that revealed a shoving off attitude. These actions were juxtaposed with floor work that was more human, and accessed the core of one’s spirit. Supplications occurred as if obeying or bowing. There was a calm gracefulness toward activating and respecting one’s space. Relationships between dancers and moments of stillness seemed important. Inside the Vault, a structured improvisation performed by Megill and four volunteers from the audience, to the song Young at Heart by Tom Waits, was a subtle movement and story-telling by witty Megill. Her sensibility with timing, vocal interactions with her assistants, and ability to break the fourth wall at appropriate times, told a sentimental and touching tale about the amazing capacity and fragility of the human brain throughout one’s life. A skein of yarn served as the prop to link all the performers together and to represent the brains connections and disconnections. The piece ended with audience members realizing their own vulnerabilities.

Kondrath and Megill invited guest choreographer Robert Cook to set his solo work titled On the Way on Kondrath. This was my third occasion to see this solo work, and each time the dance speaks differently based on the performer’s personal aesthetic choices. The movement is the message, yet the dance evolves because Cook wants each performer to live the movement in his or her own way. Kondrath has a cool, clean, uplifted approach to this solo, creating a calm, centered approach to this jazz classic. Seeing the piece on multiple performers reminds me of the variety that can occur within a single composition.

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