So . . . if you missed the SLO Movement Arts Collective showcase, Ballet Unbound, presented at the Harold J. Miossi Cultural and Performing Arts Center at Cuesta College April 22 and 23, you missed, quite simply, an extraordinary production.
You missed two beautiful pieces of contemporary dance theatre.
You missed 17+1 lithe and light-footed dancers give incredible life to thoughtful, inventive choreography and evocative but familiar musical accompaniment.
You missed connecting with “Alone Together, Together Alone,” a heart-aching but ultimately joyous work by choreographer Maartje Hermans, and you missed meeting a visually intriguing character revealed in the piece—a Golem—created in collaboration with Central Coast artist Guy Kinnear.
You missed a gorgeous and often humorous work choreographed by Ryan Lawrence, “Seasons End,” set to Max Richter’s take on Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.”
If these two performances and these two works are indicative of the quality and creativity we can expect from the Movement Arts Collective in future, then attention from Central Coast audiences must be paid.
Founded in 2017 as a premier training ground for dance on the Central Coast by its artistic directors Hermans and Lawrence, the SLO Movement Arts Center trains local dancers from age four to adult, and through the Collective, it showcases a unique and enthralling combination of ballet and modern choreography. The two pieces showcased here are proof that dance can make powerful statements that are not limited by language or expectations of how the world should work or how people should connect.
Expectations were certainly exceeded during Ballet Unbound.
Some images: the amazing range of motion of one human body, then the collective rhythm of a dozen skillfully moving in tandem as “Alone Together, Together Alone” unfolds. The dismantling of a “box” to reveal the Golem, and the lyrical, absorbing interaction of the dancers with it and the pieces of the box. The clever between-the-scenes diversion of one character “cleaning up,” often offering up a few steps of his own. The beauty of dancers “skating” in symmetry during the wintery portion of “Seasons End.” Those images and so many more were set to music in turns elegant, mournful, somber, joyful, and in one case, surprisingly absent.
Appreciation should not be limited to the movement of the performers, however. The staging (making full use of the relatively bare stage as well as a triumphant embrace of the audience space in one case), the props (from beach blankets to leaf blowers), the lighting (from harsh shadows to warm, embracing colors), the costuming (from tutus to swim suits to hoop skirts), all added to the experience’s depth of feeling and understanding.
Every one of the dancers displayed an amazing capacity and commitment to their work: Alaska Agueda, Eloise Barnickel, Jael Cohn, Keira Dube, Marissa Dube, Sarah Hill, Elena Hsia, Imke Lawrence, Juliette Lindsey, Samantha Murphy, Dahlia Perea, Lucy Peterson, Allyson Shannon, Tuhoi Spe-Y, Elyana Spiering, Lily Cate Tradwell, Jessie van Meel, and Justin Grapentine.
You have three more opportunities this year to experience the wonders of the Movement Arts Collective: Appalachian Spring with Festival Mozaic on July 22; The Adventures of Peter Rabbit & Friends on August 12, and The Nutcracker December 2-3. If you missed Ballet Unbound, don’t miss another opportunity.