Sometimes, modern dance is modern dance and even a cute title can’t wrestle a collection of works out of mind numbing movement for the sake of movement category.
Choreographer Hayley Cutler has amassed a well tuned assortment of dancers who perform her steps with precision, energy, and full commitment to the movements. It’s just that without a theatrical message or even a hint of intrigue, purpose, or reason for being, the pieces didn’t speak to me or warrant my time to watch, especially considering the increasing options for dance works being offered at the Fringe.
At least the first two pieces are salvageable. “(The Censoring of ) Approximate Location” with its fast paced style organizes the dancers into layers with distinctive movements and oscillating rhythms. The women relate every nicely to all of the movements, twisting, bending at the waist, kneeling, even performing several lifts, with grace and style.
The second piece “And Every Year is Zero” was the most theatrically based with dancers Felicia Stevens and Rick Westerkamp as a couple exploring how they relate to each other, sometimes directly eye to eye, touching, balancing each other’s movements, sharing intimate physical space or even walking away, still eyeing each other in constant communication. This piece seemed more representative of the program’s title than the other two.
The third piece “Good Riddance Donna” was more problematic for me with an ending where three dancers’ unusually slow paced simultaneous and repetitive movements speed up little by little, ending in a frenzied jolting halt. The sequence seemed more like an experimental exercise in patience and tolerance rather than a performance, and subjecting an audience to a repetitive sequence 25x just seemed to be a bit indulgent.
Still, Cutler is known for taking risks in the performing arts rather than playing it safe, and has been awarded as a finalist Emerging Choreographer for the 2011 Metro D.C. Dance Awards.
Hats off to the dancers, who performed admirably, along with the aforementioned two — Barbara Caldwell, Jennifer Caulk, April Gruber, Cara Zimbalist and Megan Whittemore. As a new company, darlingdance has lots of potential and might learn to balance the artistry with the need to sustain an appreciative audience.
Donna has a Boyfriend has 5 performances, ending July 25, 2012 at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th St NW, Washington, DC.
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Debbie rates this 2 out of a possible 5.