Becoming—a modern dance in nine segments about how the interactions of the human heart shape us—is filled with bare feet and beauty. It is a stunning concoction of ballet, acrobatics, and yoga-esque passages that allow fusiondance’s eight performers to connect to each other, and the audience, in unexpected ways.
In the program, each segment is described only by a brief elegiac description, often a quote, many of which come from the current Instagram poet R.M. Drake.
But, watching the show, I was reminded of the 20th century poet Elizabeth Bishop, who wrote a famous villanelle titled One Art in which she declares “the art of losing isn’t hard to master.” I’ve always believed she’s saying that the most important thing we must learn is how to let go, whether we want to or not. It is the one art of life, and it really is very difficult to master (no matter how flippant the poem’s opening stanzas sound). It is what we must do to move forward and become. Just become. Otherwise, we stay stuck in a state-of-mind, physical place, or relationship, never growing. In watching Becoming, I felt as if I was seeing the physical embodiment of this poem. A poem I love dearly.
The nine segments—”The Constant,” “PULSE,” “Resurrection,” “RUN,” “Escape” (with three sub-segments called “Caged,” “Letting Go,” and “Freedom”), “Starved,” “Embers,” “Invisible Scars,” and “Primordial”—flow from one to the other like streams, held together not just by the uniqueness of the choreography, but also the music.
It is contemporary with a near-constant industrial feel to it. Even when strings and the piano chime, they are usually overlaid with the hypnotic sound of some white noise and expertly blended. A keen ear will distinguish the electropop (Ruelle’s “Until We Go Down”) from the neofolk (Woodkid’ “Run Boy Run”), but the choice, sequence, and flow of the songs and sounds almost merits a new musical genre; I’d call it industr(e)thereal. It is, also, at times, discordant (that constant pinging!) and soothing (a steady rain), but always haunting, adding both urgency and an eerie calm to the overall feel of the show.
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But, the dances, and their incredibly spectacular and unique movements, are the real stars of Becoming. The dancers are very rarely left solo (with a few notable exceptions, of course). Instead, they pair-off or often form groups to use each other’s bodies as extensions of their own or as levers and inclined planes. Becoming is, at times, a series of lifts, tosses, and twists. Feats that look effortless. And graceful. All to a beat. And interspersed with sharp, angular movements and demi pointe pirouettes.
“RUN”, in particular, features a human domino chain (as best as I can describe it) that falls in on itself and rises back from the ground. Seemingly at the same time. “Letting Go” opens with a girl crawling while another stands on her back; it ends with the two dancers linked, but still at odds. I choked back emotion as they pulled and pushed at one another in an attempt to find independence. Which is so very hard.
“Freedom” followed, and here the dancers took running leaps into each other’s arms (think of the lift from Dirty Dancing, but with more elegance and beauty) in an amazing display of trust and power as a dark fuzz crescendo over the music.
Act I is the stronger segment with a more cohesive, discernible story thread. And, overall, while there were minor synchronization issues (when they synchronized), the sheer beauty of the physical control and prowess fusiondance’s eight ladies displayed overshadowed any imperfections. I wished I could call out each dancer one by one (but the program does not, so I cannot pinpoint who is who).
So, I’ll leave them with this: you are all amazing and each get a star (hence the eight above in the title). Artistic Director Candra Preshong (who also dances) has created something unique. While not a dance aficionado, I do appreciate when an art form is pushed in unexpected ways—much like how Sigur Ros (also featured in the music) simply created a language in which to sing in order to better express themselves. I felt as if I was watching the genesis of a new dance language. At least, I hope I was. Because I’d watch it again and again.
Becoming, isn’t just a lesson about life and letting go. But also about how art knows no bounds.
Becoming . Artistic Direction by Candra Preshong. Featuring Shelley Siller, Laura Franklin, Caroline Siller, Emilia Montalvo, Laura Gelles, Chanel Smith, Kathleen Howard, and Candra Preshong. Choreography: Candra Preshong (The Constant, PULSE, Resurrection, RUN, Escape, Starved, Invisible Scars, and Primordial), Shelley Siller (Ressurrection and Escape), and collaborative efforts with fusiondancers (Starved, Escape, (Caged)). Production by Sarah Chapin and Colleen Siler (Stage Managers) and Helen Garcia-Alton (Lighting Design) . Presented by fusiondance. Reviewed by Kelly McCorkendale.