BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven

It is not my typical style as an Arts & Culture journalist to write in the first person but this particular work felt, well -- personal -- which is what compelled and intrigued me in the first place despite some reservations.

In June, two of the women closest to me gave birth. Both bore beautiful, healthy boys (one in Brooklyn, one in Dallas) but what was most interesting was their journey through pregnancy for the first time -- that mysterious place between where a new being is gestating inside of you like the seed of a tree, hidden from plain view but growing and full of vast yet uncertain potential.

However, as much as pregnancy may be celebrated in some circles, in the contemporary world of performing and most especially dance, it is typically something to hide away until you are able to return to your key weight and fitness. Even Beyonce admitted struggles to quickly regain her ideal figure and fierceness after her first child, then regretted that quick and pressured decision and vowed to do it differently with her other children. And who is anyone to argue with the wisdom of Queen Bey?

Fortunately for eight months pregnant dancer Mira Cook and the transfixed audiences who attended the run of No Man's Land, Robin Cantrell the Artistic Director of Indelible Dance had something else in mind. Instead of giving Cook pregnancy maternity leave for at least a year or artistic season (as other companies Cook dances with did), Cantrell chose to base an entire show around Cook's real-life journey through her pregnancy and explore the questions of where we come from: spiritually, emotionally and biologically (we know the latter but no mother-to-be knows her child fully until they have arrived and even then are ever-changing) through an immersive dance and theatrical experience.

I must admit a slight wariness upon entering the space, an expansive warehouse in the heart of Williamsburg, The Brass Factory, where there were limited chairs and we were informed that we'd be moving around all the time, "So you can sit on the floor, stand or bring a chair with you." As the audience shuffled in and grew to at least a couple hundred, I noticed a non-typical crowd for dance but more of the usual suspects you'd expect to see in a warehouse in Williamsburg, with a healthy smattering of parents with young children barely a few years outside of their own mother's belly. The skepticism was not aided by Artistic Director Cantrell's speech that unfortunately, Indelible Dance's offering wouldn't be possible due to unforeseen circumstances but please enjoy a performance from our partners: "Questions and Dancers", a works-in-progress showing featuring excerpts of The Life Cycle of Man brought to you by The Men's Movement of New York. Oh no! Was this another casualty of the underfunding of the arts especially in a borough outside of Manhattan? I braced myself.

What transpired was a ridiculously silly and utterly hilarious parody on "Man" choreographed by Indelible Dance company member Leigh Schanfein. No Man's Land had become all man's land as interpretive dancers Nile Baker, Riki Bryan, Dylan Hiester Patrick O'Brian and Michael O'Neill pranced around to the sounds of Stravinsky with machismo and bravado while a quartet of "musicians" feigning to play rolled their eyes. And why not parody such portrayals of the patriarchy? With the way the boys in politics and on the world's stage are behaving today, it is not only fair and just but natural and necessary to poke fun.

Once they had exited, the joke was clearly on me for believing such tomfoolery would be the meat of the evening, for it was only a comedic prelude... the real journey was about to begin.

From the quartet of mimed musicians rose one of a much fuller figure, held behind from the others -- Mira Cook, eight months pregnant and resplendent with a maternal glow not noticed until she was given the spotlight. This began No Man's Land and the pilgrimage of the viewers through Cook's inner world as a mother-in-the-making.

In the first piece, once the audience settled in, video performance art of ancestors of distant past and spirit guides created by Barry Steele -- also known as the "technical wizard" of Indelible Dance as he also provides the soundscapes and other audio-visual mastery -- set the ever-evolving and moving stage for what the viewers were to encounter and encouraged and open-minded and open-hearted approach. This was to be a spiritual adventure.

What transpired afterwards began the section entitled Past commenced by visitation by the ancestral guides who brought Cook and the attendees to the next space. The setting was a pastoral plain of astroturf, acid-green grass where they frolicked in leotards and skirts evocative of Degas' dancers and twirled to Goldfrapp's "Happiness" -- a celebration of youth, beauty and innocence, which merged into a longing for those purer days with more mournful music by Lusine featuring Vilja Larjosto.

Another transition was to take place, similar to stages of the cycles of gestation in the womb, bringing the artists and audiences into the cycle referred to as Present. The next space was a striking structure made up of triangular metal beams to create a cage-like, dome-shaped apparatus which a solo dancer, Giorgio Bovo from Italy, contorted and cavorted. Then, members of the audience were invited into the open dome, where the company of dancers athletically spun around them and the rest of the viewers to the celestial music of Prince Rama. Following that, Bovo and Cook engaged in a charming duet entitled "Two Paths Diverged."

From there we were guided to what was probably the most exquisite and mesmerizing aspect of the engagement -- the first part of the last series in the cycles called Future, which was entitled "Watery Feminine Maternal (Human Nature)" with music by Sevdaliza. The dancers performed enchantingly in a wading pool (evocative of a birthing pool, or the womb itself) wearing teal silken dresses which gave them the appearance of water nymphs. The use of the elements in performance paid tribute to luminaries such as Pina Bausch and the exceptional Broadway production of Metamorphosis which opened in 2002 and was centered around a pool of water.

Finally, Cook joined and passed through the pool, discarded her dress and moved on to the next and final part of Distant Future, where she -- clad in only a black bra and briefs, but ensconced in billowy clouds of light-as-clouds material, enacted the dances called "A Lighted Path" and "What I've Created" to the live electro-cello of Luna Skye.

But lest anyone think this is all about the divine feminine and modern-day goddess reverence, behind and beyond the depth is a show and company that (as the opening number would indicate) is neither pretentious nor taking itself too seriously, but is rather a perfect storm of poignancy and playfulness.

This could not be better demonstrated than the finale "Priestess" when Cook appears with gilded Isis wings (any true belly dancer would know what those are) and a disco ball around her rotund protrusion, while the ensemble -- male and female -- all strapped with similar protrusions themselves danced around in a disco frenzy to worship and celebrate her.

After the excursion expires, one is left feeling entranced, inspired and empowered. Indelible Dance has proven that the journey to a warehouse in Brooklyn was certainly a worthy one!










BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Prelude: Dancer Mira Cook is visited by her spirit guides. Video by Alexis Gideon.

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Prelude: Dancer Mira Cook. Video by Barry Steele.

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Prelude: Mira is visited by her ancestors.

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Past: Discovering Dance to the "Happiness" by Goldfrapp.

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Past: Ah, Youth (Just A Cloud).

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Present: Womb For One More (Running Out of Time). Dancer Giorgi Bovo.

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Present: Everyone Knows Best.

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Future: Watery Feminine Maternal (Human Nature).

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Future: Watery Feminine Maternal (Human Nature).

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Distant Future: What I've Created. Dancer Mira Cook.

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Distant Future: What I've Created. Dancer Mira Cook.

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Distant Future: Generations to Come.

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Bank To Now: Priestess (Finale).

BWW Review: No Man's Land Celebrates The Beauty of Birth to Be in a Hipster Haven
Back To Now: Priestess (Finale).

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Cindy Sibilsky Cindy Sibilsky is a Broadway, Off Broadway, U.S. and international Producer, Tour Producer, Marketing/PR Director and theatre, film, arts & culture and travel writer/reviewer specializing in global cultural exchange and accessible, universally appealing entertainment. She is devoted to bringing the best shows and companies from Europe, South America, the Middle East and Africa to the North and Central American markets and American and international work worldwide to Europe, U.K., Australia, Asia, the Americas and beyond or call attention to their work through featured reviews. For Broadway World Cindy covers Dance, International, special features and is the Regional writer/reviewer for Panama, opening up the region to the World's Stage. She writes for numerous outlets including several international publications and her writing has been translated into Arabic, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese. For more information on her company, InJoy Entertainment: www.injoyentertainment.com

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