Saturday, January 3, 2015
Williams Center for the Arts
By Amanda Urbanski
This past Saturday, the audience at the Williams Center for the Arts had a unique opportunity when they welcomed to the stage BodyVox. The company, based in Portland, Oregon is currently in their 17th season. Thanks to Lafayette College and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Lehigh Valley got a taste of BodyVox and their deliciously witty and mesmerizing repertoire! Their show entitled Reverie mimicked a daydream atmosphere by taking viewers on countless aesthetic journeys. Each time the lights rose, the audience members witnessed a new spectacle that encompassed humor, physicality, or beauty. What made this performance even more memorable was the incorporation of dance on camera! Between the charm of theatrical elements and the captivation of alluring movement, there was much to love within the development of this concert.
The show opened with Moto Perpetuo, a solo choreographed by artistic director Jamey Hampton. This short and sweet solo made viewers chuckle as soloist, Eric Skinner’s body articulation imitated the violin music’s rapidity. Skinner gestured a “welcome” to the audience as the stage lights faded black. Shifting to another realm, a light gust of wind sounded in the Williams Center. As the bodies on stage faded out of darkness, costumes resembling bamboo stalks became apparent. The billowing bamboo was soon joined by two calla lilies whose movement and playful spirits were enticing. Their balletic quality almost seemed to poke fun at the delicateness associated with nature.
More light-heartedness followed during the first act. Two duets in particular titled Twins and Deere John showcased buoyancy and exploratory partnering. The main difference between the two was that one incorporated heavy operating machinery. That’s right, a screening of the dance film, Deere John, included a call and response phrase between Jamey Hampton and his partner, Mr. Bulldozer. This comical film was a favorite among audience members.
Showcasing the company’s versatility, BodyVox closed the first act with two powerhouse numbers. X-axis, originally commissioned by Inland Pacific Ballet, left me awestruck. This balancing act revolved entirely around a trapeze swing. Dancers, Daniel Kirk and Eric Skinner, defied gravity by creating mesmerizing shapes. Rounding it out, artistic director Ashley Roland closed the act with her own choreographic solo titled, Beat. Roland, feeding off of the music’s intensity, gave a commanding performance that left a powerful impression.
If the first half didn’t completely captivate, more spectacles were to come during the second half! The curtain opened on a sleeping couple in BodyVox’s piece, Dormez Vous. At first, I was puzzled as to why the bed was built into the stage’s backdrop. However, when a hand reached out from in between the sheets, splitting the bed, I soon realized this was not an ordinary night’s sleep. Four dark clothed figures emerged from the bed. They took the sleeping couple from bed rest and lifted them upstage. Movement surfaced from the two sleeping beauties that seemed to reverberate different REM cycles. Laughter could be heard by the audience as the figures poked passively at the woman and yet antagonized the poor man. It was a very inventive and intriguing portrayal of the body at rest.
Reverie came to a close with a culminating piece that incorporated both dance and film. Rip/Tide was a two toned dance. It contained elements of hard-hitting, direct motifs along with ebb and flow vibrations. After the piece ended, each company member briefly took the stage for a spotlight dance. The ending scene did not feel like a curtain call but rather a last free for all dance party where company members celebrated a joyous occasion.
BodyVox exceeded my interpretation of the dance realm. Rather than placing themselves into the genre of modern dance, BodyVox created a world of their own. I found an appreciation for the company’s artistry. Rather than solely executing nice lines and good technique, I admired the utilization of lights, musicality, and motion picture. Thank you BodyVox for considerable fun and creative vibes!