Post graduation run ins with old friends generally turns me into one of those annoyingly smiley, giddy girls who’s voice flies up at least two octaves. I found myself happily squealing away during the beginning, intermission, and end of MMC classmate, Andrea Gise’s TYPE3 dance concert at Triskelion Arts in Willamsburg. Seeing Andrea’s work and knowing the dedication she places on starting, maintaining, and growing her company, agise & dancers, is purely inspirational. In college she always struck me as one with such an intrigue for choreography with an inventive mind and strong-headed clarity on what she deemed important.
One rule of thumb I have for a dance concert, brought shamelessly into fruition thanks to dearest friend Rebecca Rainey (better known as Rebe), is that if I remain alert and engaged, and essentially don’t have a nod off moment while watching, (yes, there I said it – gasp! And I call myself a dancer!), then for the most part, I was intrigued and enjoyed the concert. There is something about a fed belly on a glass of wine, in a dark theatre that cries for at least a heavy eyelid. I used to feel awful about this nagging sleepiness that would wash over me until Rebe allowed me to loose the guilt and put it into blunt reality. Sometimes it’s just not interesting enough to hold your attention. Obviously, this isn’t my singular significant marker for a captivating performance or ingenious choreography, but it sure can point out moments that are sub par.
Andrea’s concert featured 4 works and I’d have to say the newest creation, TYPE3, had me the most on edge; continuously surprised and feening for the next movement that would arise from the dancers’ bodies. The way the movements collided unexpectedly into one another had me curious and kept my eyes glued to the performers’ next steps. Now call me biased, but I don’t care, I am about to ruthlessly toot the horn of some colleagues who had me so moved. Celia DeVoe, a dancer with Andrea since our days in college, is someone who understands Andrea’s choreographic technique and somehow subtly and lusciously flows through the inventive, unexpected, and jagged movement vocabulary as if that is the only way one would ever conceive of moving their body. Kim Machaby moves with precision and clarity to truly annunciate each moment with such a purity of focus and Katelyn Chakey is a captivating powerhouse who leaves no movement to waste. Alexandra Rose who I haven’t seen dance in unfortunately such a long time had me amazed by her dynamic artistry and choreographic talents (she presented a work of her own as well) which somehow managed to mature even more beautifully with years past.
So enough gushing! Here’s a did-bit on how Andrea operates behind the scenes….
Andrea thrives on asking her dancers for movements that are not cliché and calls upon images and ideas that generate movements not seen from dance concert to dance concert. I had the blessed experienced to work on a solo with Andrea this summer, and the proof was in the pudding. She saw images of a spring winding up eventually leading to the point of inevitable destruction. The first day of rehearsal she had me moving up and down in a single location, moving my arms in linear, cylindrical pathways. Not only did I have two left feet, but my feet belonged to two different people entirely. I quickly discovered the challenge of transforming this choreographic vision into something conceivable on my body. (Being performed Nov 29th @ 8pm @ Red Bean Studios on 320 West 37th Street – shameless plug!) Having this knowledge of how Andrea pulls new ideas out of her dancers, elevated my level of respect for the performers on stage who danced as if the next moment was precisely what should come next, no matter how contorted.
Another fabulous (if you ask me!) aspect of the evening was the inclusion of other art forms into the concert. WhaleHawk created all the music for the pieces, and played a live set to open the concert as well as at intermission. While they did not perform live with the dancers, they encapsulated the mood of the evening and allowed the audience to see and absorb them in action and take a piece of them into the dance. Not to mention, it made those moments of quiet reading of program notes, ransacked by jamming out to their entrancing music. I literally had to move right next to them to check out how they were making magic happen on these high-tech (to me at least – doesn’t take much!) instruments to blend in alternative beats. Also, Philip Kowlton’s (Andrea’s sweetheart… what a dynamic duo!) backdrop of city landscapes for the new creation fit seamlessly with Andrea’s confrontational, and abrupt dynamics without distracting from the work of the dancers. Gosh this doesn’t happen enough!
Andrea’s work had me proud; proud to have come from the same educational background of someone who created a beautifully progressive work of art. Proud that a colleague of mine is producing work just as I had imaged her to do years ago, and proud of where I can fathom her heading years down the road.