In the storytelling cacophony that is the Capital Fringe Festival, it is easy to forget the pure beauty of bodies in space moving with discipline and grace. Seven Windows provides that eye-in-the-storm relief in eleven short segments that show remarkable eclecticism and talent of both choreographer and cast, though the promised story is harder to discern.
Choreographer and Artistic Director Diane Sharp-Nachsin has based at least part of this performance on “the dream of a dancer in which she is visited by her recently departed mother.” It is quite a lovely sentiment and the discrete pieces are equally lovely, but I had a difficult time sussing out that story from the material presented.
The story could be expressed in the first segment, a lovely piece of ballet-infused choreography that uses recursive movement and placement around seven window frames. But its thoughtful repetition limits the number of elements used for storytelling, which prevents the premise from becoming clear, if it was meant to exist here.
Dancer Kate Rast shines especially in this segment, as she does throughout. She has a talent for melting into the choreography the way that exceptional chorus members do in a Broadway musical. Dance is not always about individual expression, which can often upstage the meaning of a piece. Sometimes it is about molding oneself to the shape and expression that the dance needs, and Rast excels at this.
The story of the dancer’s dream could also be told through the first half hour act of Seven Windows. There are, after all, seven of those segments, ranging from the contemplative choreopoem “I thought of you again” to the forceful “End of the Road” to the acrobatic “The Cube.”
In this last piece, Rast and Sandra Davis, who is very much the principal performer throughout Seven Windows, engage with the title quite literally. After a lingering time in the dark (all Seven Windows were abundantly drafty with technical problems), a welded cube descends from the ceiling. Rast and Davis perform intricate acrobatics on the suspended cube, balancing each other in complicated, practically gymnastic positions as the cubes gently sways above the stage.
Directed by Diane Sharp-Nachsin
Details and tickets
These gorgeous acrobatic maneuvers make Seven Windows stand out from the average dance piece, but they don’t only occur in “The Cube.” “Twins” similarly uses a suspended metal frame plus Rast and Davis’ talents, but this time a circle inches its way down from the rafters, and is used as a womb metaphor. Davis and the only male performer of the crew, Miguel Quiñones, also perform great acrobatics in “Wings,” which makes great use of difficult lifts to create physical beauty.
As a whole, Seven Windows is widely eclectic in style and theme. Elements of ballet, contemporary choreography, modern interpretive, African, and even an entire final section devoted to clowning. This variety helps the piece in a way, showing off the talent of the cast and choreographer.
But it hurts Seven Windows more than it helps. The whole thing feels uneven, more like a masterpiece (in a traditional sense of showing one understands all parts of a craft, rather than what the word has come to mean) and so lacks a consistent arc or a decisive purpose to each style. If the styles generally and the segments particularly felt directed and more meaningful, Seven Windows would be a bigger success.
If you try to delve too deeply into Seven Windows, you’ll hit a hard bottom. But if you approach it lightly, as an enjoyable physical relief from the mental stress of Fringe, it might be just the play you need.
Seven Windows. Choreographed by Diane Sharp-Nachsin. Featuring Caroline Butcher, Sandra Davis, Miguel Quiñones, Kate Rast, and Angeli Romano . Projection Artist: Lauren Mandilian-Huot . Produced by SHARP Dance Company. Reviewed by Alan Katz.