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BWW Review: Dancing Through The Metaphysical Tree Of Life in SVB ROSA

Svb Rosa showcases twelve vignettes that embrace the divine feminine through video art, spoken word, interlacings of original and popular music and dance fusion rooted in vocabulary from women-created Middle Eastern and North African dance traditions.

It is the latest production from Lunaris, a group that seeks to "physically manifest the workings of the soul and spirit through the art of dance, ritual and theater." Each piece is representative of a branch on the Kabbalistic tree of life and heavily incorporates symbolism from Western ceremonial mysticism.

Creative and ambitious, Svb Rosa is a platform for a diverse array of talents and ends with several powerful pieces.

In MALKUTH (Earth): The Kingdom, The Cave the only performer was a series of images projected on the upstage wall, featuring nature and esoteric symbols, while the white-clad women of Lunaris lay motionless in the foreground. The moving painting and original musical score, both by Dena Rosenberg, served as a symbolic and literal initiator into the space.

The women of Lunaris eventually rise to perform YESOD (Moon): The Foundation, a belly dance fusion piece with contemporary aspirations, which focuses on ritualistic partnerwork and theatricality under the soft glow of a projected image of the moon.

Following this is the more dynamic HOD (Mercury): Splendor, a duet by Sarah Jezebel Wood and Megan Ward. Ward in a black, Aleister Crowley-style robe, uses hand sigils and hip hop-inspired movements to summon and interplay with an otherworldly assistant, the white-clad Wood in a mask reminiscent of the Greek god Hermes.

A video installation of roses and candles led us into NETZACH (Venus): Victory in which Lunaris returns, now in black costumes, with a group piece more funky and sensual than the first, an embodiment of the piece's coquettish patron deity.

The first set ends with TIPHARETH (Sun): Beauty a cheeky ode to the sun featuring a blonde in yellow dress singing Beatles covers, Here Comes the Sun and Good Day Sunshine of course. The cute and underlyingly uncertain energy of the piece helped it to stand out about as much as a Sunday school picnic would in a picturesque cemetery.

Ecstatic bouts of laughing, panting, gibberish, chanting and Bulgarian-style singing comprised the one-woman choir that is Renata Bergan in GEBURAH (Mars): Strength, a piece in which impressively versatile vocal artistry is accompanied by the dramatically minimal drumming of Ammo.

Ayesha Adamo embodies CHESED (Jupiter): Mercy to her own atmospheric, otherworldly music and contemporary choreography. The leaps and lines of balletic technique are delivered without fail but feel strained, perhaps out of nervousness.

Entrance to the Abyss was another non-sequitur starting with three women in bodysuits coming out of a black tent covered in LED lights. The piece took "otherworldy" in another direction breaking from the aesthetic of the rest of the show and presenting us with aliens(?) who've crash landed in the desert and adopted some of the fashion customs there, in their own colorful way.

One of the strongest pieces in the show was DA'ATH (Uranus): The Abyss in which solo performer, Aepril Schaile, needed no props and barely anything conventionally recognized as dance to command the space and the audience. Performed to Leonard Cohen's You Want It Darker, facial expressions and body language conveyed a formidable presence.

Another fantastic piece is BINAH (Saturn): Understanding in which fiery-locked Elizabeth Muise, blonde Alissa Chikeles and raven-haired Sarah Jezebel Wood become an emanation of the archetypal female triad to deliver the strongest fusion of contemporary dance, folkloric dance and ritual in the show. Described as "three terrible queens throned at The Edge of the triangle" who protect "the sphere that leads to understanding" they truly channeled their source of inspiration.

CHOKMAH (Neptune): Wisdom saw the return of musical duo, Renata and Ammo, and a video projection of the earth that ends with the planet burning as commentary on the impoverished and human-created state of the environment today. Renata started the piece by looping her various vocalizations to Ammo's drumming. Renata performed brief solo that incorporated Dervish-like spinning and ended with screaming and an abrupt fall before blackout.

KETHER (Pluto): Middle Pillar-Opening of the Stone brought the show full circle by closing the night with a multimedia presentation representing transcendence of the spheres and union into oneness.

Photo by Monzeeki Photography

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