By John Lyle Belden
I’ll admit up front: Dance isn’t really “my thing.” One might think that disqualifies me from being a reliable reviewer of these modern dance shows. But I disagree, to the extent that in this I am the proxy for the average viewer, who hasn’t spent years studying or even thinking about modern dance. Yet you’ve got that Fringe ticket — what are you going to see?
I couldn’t help but think, while watching the dancers execute movements they and their teachers and choreographers had labored over and rehearsed for endless hours, that what I was seeing was like trying to read something with not just unfamiliar words, but a foreign alphabet. When they move their arms like so, or collapse to the floor, or leap in a certain fashion, does it have a meaning they are trying to communicate to us? What is it?
I later spoke with one of the dancers, and she liked my idea that one of the local dance troupes or schools should put on a Fringe show of “the vocabulary of dance,” in which their movements could be better explained and understood. So I can stand at the end of the show, knowing, “ah-ha, I get it now.”
But for now you get my feeble attempts to interpret.
In “Inspired Motion,” in which the dances were designed by the dancers themselves, the performance of the young women of Crossroads Dance can be summed up in the word “graceful.” They flowed one into another like the instinctive flight of a flock of birds. On one piece reflecting the conformity of a cult (going by the printed program) they danced in unison and unified groups with precision.
For us who must be beat over the head with a metaphor, the piece, “Single Use” makes excellent use of plastic grocery bags as costume and fashion accessories. The ladies even indulge in a bit of humor as they bring their point home.
In “Carve,” on the other hand, the movement of Motus and music of Orkestra Projekt were displays of constant unresolved tension. The dancers had mastery over their bodies and executed their moves expertly. The musicians performed modern Phillip Glass-style pieces (including one by Glass) with sharp precision as well, assuring us that any and all discordant notes were placed there with intent.
On one hand, the styles of these two ensembles, who shared the stage for much of the show, are perfectly suited to one another and their melding is a master stroke. If you like the style of either, this performance is highly recommended. On the other hand, where is the sin in a major chord; and while dance can express strife , stress and pain, can’t it also express joy?
Ah, but what do I know.
Both shows are held on the generous confines of the Theatre on the Square main stage. “Inspired Motion” has performances Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26-27. The last performance of “Carve” is Sunday evening, Aug. 28. Get info and tickets at indyfringefestival.com.