Kuruka: Taking Flight | Sarah Duffany (Oct. 2015)

Kuruka: Taking Flight
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Bethlehem Ice House

By Sarah Duffany

The Monarch Dance Company recently graced the stage at the Bethlehem Ice House for the start of their 16th Season. This opening performance was the debut of Monarch’s new apprentice company, Mariposa, and also featured the In Motion Dance Company. The Monarch Dance Company is directed by Tabatha Robinson-Scott, who originally founded the company in 2000 to create socially diverse works which infuse both African and Contemporary dance styles.

The show began with the piece Versus (2015) which depicted a continuous duel-like atmosphere between the dancers. The simple costumes, consisting of gray tanks and black shorts, allowed for the audience to focus on the movement in the piece, which alternated from quick, sharp movements to slow, reverberated steps. The audience was then treated to a performance of Tabatha Robinson-Scott’s solo work, Scarred, which incorporated movement with spoken word. Various words were spoken, such as “quiet, gentle, kind,” which seemed to relate how man is called to be a light in the world in the midst of the trials found in life. Gestures showcased the emotion of the words being spoken, and these gestures became reoccurring motifs in this thought-provoking piece. One line spoken by Tabatha Robinson-Scott summarized the entire piece:  “the scars that us hurt the most are the ones we cannot see.” It is the lessons learned and the hurt underneath the hidden scars that make us who we are today.

Monarch’s new apprentice company, Mariposa, showcased their versatility and

technicality in their first official performance piece, Temperament (2015), which featured choreography, by Monarch Company member, Emily Luca. This work also portrayed a constant battle between the dancers as they were separated into various groups. Sharp and quick turns, kicks, and tilts were contrasted with slow, undulating extensions of the arms and legs when trying to counteract various forms of attack from other dancers. The dark, navy blue dresses worn by the dancers in this piece added to the intensity and suggested that a person’s temperament can serve as a barrier against other people or oneself. This opposition can be quite a dark force to acknowledge and rectify.

The program also featured a solo piece, Soul le Ciel de Paris (2015), which was choreographed and performed by one of Monarch Dance Company’s newest members, Noah Ruebeck. This piece was very fun and captivating to watch, due to Reubeck’s stunning technique, control, and elongated extensions. With numerous pirouettes and a fall and release style reminiscent of José Limón, Ruebeck’s exuberant performance seemed to depict a sense of enjoying the world, taking in all the wonders it holds.

Fire and Ice (2005) closed the show, a rousing group piece which fused the polyrhythmic style of African dance with the poignancy of contemporary styles. The costumes of this piece ultimately showcased the contrasting nature of fire and ice, with half of the dancers wearing white loose pants and shirts, while the other half wore fiery red dresses. The music for this piece had an Eastern feel to it, accentuating the sharp, percussive movements of the fire dancers, while also complementing the flowing, continuous movement of those portraying ice.  Various sections of this piece had the dancers split into partners. One duet in particular captured moments where these two beautiful opposing forces ultimately came together, and learned how to work with each other.

Overall, Kuruka: Taking Flight provided a lot to enjoy. At times, however, the movement vocabulary became repetitive which made it harder to understand the different themes instituted for each piece. Some of the themes shined through prominently, while others required the audience to really search the piece. Despite this drawback, Ms Robinson-Scott has alot to be proud of. With this performance, the Monarch Dance Company, along with its newly formed apprentice company, Mariposa, has spread its wings and is more than ready to soar to new heights during its 16thperformance season.