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BWW Reviews: CRAWL: CHAPTER 4 - Dante Brown, Gregory Dolbashian


The People Movers presented their final installment of their inaugural season of CRAWL, a multi-disciplinary arts series. CRAWL's mission is to provide a platform for a diverse range of creative emerging artists to "radically change the way that contemporary art is seen and experienced." Set in a warehouse in Brooklyn and featuring works by Dante Brown (Warehouse Dance) and Gregory Dolbashian (The Dash Ensemble), as well as music and poetry by E. Oks (Evan Okun), CRAWL: Chapter 4 did exactly that.

The fourth chapter included an optional pre-show discussion at a nearby bar, where rather than having the artists explain their works, audience members and artists alike had an opportunity to dive into the evening's themes by recounting their own experiences. The overarching theme of the evening? Identity (and most especially identity within social contexts).

The evening began with the world premiere of Soapbox {LP} by Dante Brown of Warehouse Dance. The piece used music as a vehicle to explore whose voices get heard in . The evolution of soul music and its transfer from black voices to white voices was prominently heard in the music, as well the obscure mix of house and Donald Trump. The dancers also drove a mini SUV.

Within the collection of vignettes were two prominent features. The first was of a dancer apologizing profusely to another. The encounter took a violent turn and then evolved into a duet, where the dancers seemed to dance as one, yet it was quite noticeable that the partnership was imbalanced. The second was a dancer who lip-synched passionately to Jennifer Hudson's version "And I'm Telling You" as she physically fought off the other dancers, who sought to literally bring her down. Finally breaking free from the others, she elicited a great cheer from the crowd. There were many other combinations of emotional highs and lows, laughter and discomfort in Brown's piece, a stunning and thought-provoking work about which voices get hard in the popular and political landscape.

E. Oks (Evan Okun), a Chicago-based hip-hop artist, musician, and poet, presented Play Pretend, which combined comedy, jazz, rap, and audience participation. His set featured audience answers to questions like "What do you pretend to be?" and "What questions have you pretended to answer?" His eclectic set brought raucous laughter and quiet contemplation as it touched upon the identities we often take up each day.

The installation ended with a piece by Gregory Dolbashian of The Dash Ensemble. The piece, which intertwined movement and poetry, appeared to start off as a "coming out" story but became more of a "coming to terms" story. As Dolbashian told personal stories of his encounters with others throughout his life, dancers displayed the struggle within. But unlike the situations described, the dancers held the floor. Whereas the stories told of shifting personalities to please others in social situations, the dancers commanded the audience's attention. They inhabited one side of the warehouse then quickly fleed to the other, making the audience part of their dance as they scurried to keep up. Dolbashian and the dancers were no longer the ones shifting their appearances for others, the audience was the one shifting their perspective.

The choreography and dancing was absolutely phenomenal. Dolbashian's choreographic vocabulary is vast, colorful, and incredibly innovative, and paired with the dancers' effortless grace, athleticism, and precision, the piece was absolutely entrancing. The intensity and power of each movement made the dance extraordinary beautiful for such a heavy topic.

The fourth chapter for CRAWL explored the theme of identity and not only succeeded in exploring each artists' ideas on identity but also the series' own idea. Set out to change how audiences view art, this final installation of the season did just that. CRAWL: Chapter 4 created a wholly immersive experience, exploring what it means to consume and process artistic and real life situations. These three different yet similar pieces staged in a warehouse in Brooklyn, where even the audience became part of the artistic experience, showed how art, and even life, could be.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Robin Lee

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From This Author Jessica Abejar

Jessica Abejar is an artist with a love of storytelling. As a dancer/choreographer, she most recently performed at World Youth Day in Brazil, where she (read more...)