BWW Dance Review: BALLETX 10TH ANNIVERSARY RETROSPECTIVE and the World Premiere of TIME CURVES By Kevin O'Day at The Wilma Theater
BalletX 10th anniversary retrospective
BalletX has been running strong in Philadelphia for the past 10 years, exercising interesting ideas along with abstract and narrative based movements. Since the pieces are being recreated by new dancers and I hadn't been able to witness all the past performances it is difficult to critique on things other than technically ability. That being said, I could see within the performances that these dancers carried a great respect the work that they were paying homage to, the only thing greater than their love and passion for the movement was their shear technical ability. The remembrances created with these excerpts were able to remove a lot of the pretention from what can often be considered a "stuffy" experience. All in all it was a successful homage to the shows that had happened before them.
World premiere of Time Curves by Kevin O' Day
Airing on the side of abstraction of noise meets movement, Time Curves by Kevin O'Day breaks the traditional narrative that is usually placed upon us with delicateness and tutu's. Using breath and static cloaked in satin instead. But was it at all purposeful to idea of art and abstraction? Do we need more abstract pieces that we can't connect with? Do we need more work with a removed narrative? In an age where everyone feels like a lost child a little direction never hurt anybody. It is not possibly to create a piece with absolutely no narrative because even if you don't speak your truth to anyone there is a still a meaning and connection to the creator. It's why this piece exists now. So why not let the people watching know how you really feel?
Opening up with a large metal structure hanging from the ceiling that seems to act as tuning fork but looks like an odd lawn chair then introducing a cellist and the dancers who seem to be praising the structure and holding disdain for the cellist. The dancers are being pulled from the absolute presence being brought on by these elements to coping with absolute raw emotion that is being created by the cellist. I admired the breaking of the 4th wall by creating an interaction with said cellist. They seemed to be angry at her for forcing them into these uncontrollable movements. She was a pivotal part of the feeling of this piece and I enjoyed that immensely. It brings the question to mind, when it comes to abstract dance what is more important the use of rigid pulsing or the use of fluid movement? Using both of them at once like in Time Curves creates a confusing visual dissonance. Albeit interesting to witness, It removed a lot of the raw emotion that I was supposed to feel. The dancers were all incredibly technically sound, brilliantly technically sound actually. But is it possible to be so sound that it removes the heart of the work? The use of loud breathing from the dancers is what helped bring back the human aspect. I wish they had adhered mics to the stage and used that concept more. I liked being able to hear what the dancers were going through physically and that in turn, made me feel something, even if it was just empathy for the physical condition of the people involved.
All in all, the praise for this work falls on the dancers, calling out specifically Gary W. Jeter II and Caili Quinn who I feel were the most sound when it comes to movement. Throughout the entire evening (within both pieces of work) my eye kept following them specifically whenever they came onto the stage. Time Curves was a structurally sound piece with an odd concept. Randomness in abstraction does not always mean success in abstraction. There is always a method behind the madness, but not sharing that method by claiming there is no narrative does not give us a chance to understand the process that is unfolding before us.