BWW Reviews: ITE FESTIVAL Serves up a little Darkness at the Shetler Studios
The plight of the urban dweller appeared to be the theme of choice at the ITE Dance Festival's Friday night performance at Shetler Studios' Theatre 54. Providing emerging and mid-career artists the opportunity to perform their work in a supportive and collaborative based setting, Inception to Exhibition (ITE) was co-founded in 2010 by former Elisa Monte Dancer Tiffany Rhea Fisher and Matthew Fisher
In the tradition of contemporary dance showcases in NYC, the choreographers of ITE were given the difficult but all too familiar task of adapting their work to a performance space not usually hospitable to concert dance. Theatre 54 is a small but extremely wide black box studio with minimal seating and sparse tech capabilities. Thankfully, this didn't distract much from the evening's entrees. The five choreographers of Friday night, Francesca Harper, Sidra Bell, Loni Landon, Takehiro Ueyama and Nelly Van Bommell kept the audience engaged and hopefully wanting more.
Francesca Harper opened the program with Look at this Shirt, a work which, as the choreographer puts it, is "a resolve to surpass limitation with the power of intention." Her dancer, Eriko Iisaku, is dressed in an oversized men's collared shirt and tie but over the course of the work, in a clear act of self empowerment, strips down to black shorts and a bra top as the video projection behind her reads "I will not let the past take my power." Sometimes the best part of a live performance is watching the audience react to the work as it is happening. I was sitting right behind the choreographer and her very young daughter who was asking questions to her mother during the entire piece. No doubt this was Harper's intention, to show her daughter the possibility of dance as self-empowerment and hopefully start a conversation amongst other audience members as well.
Takehiro Ueyama, Artistic Director of Take Dance, offered us Whispering Wall, an excerpt of a longer work, Salaryman. Take's dancers, Kristen Bell and Kile Hotchkiss, began with their faces pressed upstage against the back wall in what morphed into a sustained slow adagio of overlapping embraces. Over the course of the 10-minute duet, Hotchkiss and Bell alternated between serene and frantic, but found complete unison in seemingly spontaneous bursts of syncopation, contrasting the spare atmospheric score by Ana Milosavljevic.