BWW Reviews: A LULLABY TO MR. ADAM Activates Imaginations at MMAC
On August 18th, the basement of the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center in Manhattan not only held a beautiful, intimate theater, but a space completely filled by passion from the dancers and creativity from their choreographer's vision.
Abarukas, a Contemporary Dance Company founded by Manhattanville College graduate Yoshito Sakuraba, presented their piece, "A Lullaby To Mr. Adam" to a full house. This show was split up into two sections - The first, a short (few minute) piece titled "Scar" by Vivake Dance Company, which consisted of eight dancers and guest choreographer, Vivake Khamsingsavath. Sakuraba's company then followed this incredible number with their own hour-long visual masterpiece, which seemed to fly by in a matter of minutes.
The first piece by Vivake set the mood for the rest of the show. The dancers started off walking back and forth on the black marley floor, somehow interacting with one another. They wore all different styles of black clothing, accompanied by plain black socks. Three unique songs wove through this piece - The first sounded as if it had come out of a video game, the second had more of a flowy feel through its instruments and contemporary style, and the third had the same contemporary feel with a few sharp-hitting beats. Although the story in this piece was not pinpointed, the whole thing seemed to center around one leading male dancer. In the beginning, he seemed to control the others dancers, and throughout the piece was trying to fight his was out of being controlled by them.
This dance was absolutely beautiful. The lighting, which consisted of red, yellow, soft white and a main spotlight, set the perfect ambiance for the themes of control and animalism that flashed throughout the number. The movements were mainly contemporary, with animal-type references that came through in the lead dancer's movement and noises. His interaction with the other female dancers throughout this number was also breathtaking - There was the right amount of body contact to fit the choreographer's vision and send that sense of control straight through to the audience. The piece ended with the dancers all lying down on the floor, (assumed dead), and the lead male letting out one last "roar."
The second part of the show, Abaruka's "A Lullaby to Mr. Adam," had a similar contemporary style. However, this piece was filled with different dynamics - The speed of the movement, the intensity of the interactions, and the embedded story lines. Sakuraba created scenes throughout this number. It was evident that he had a distinct vision and wanted to create something that was masterful, yet eerie. Each of the dancers was introduced by walking across the back of the floor and into the spotlight, suddenly hitting a sharp pose after staring into the audience for a few seconds. This piece, although open for interpretation, seemed to circle around a leader who seemingly killed all of his people, and at the end, surrendered himself and was surprisingly killed in return. Although I had more specific details and story ideas in my head while watching, I believe that was the overall gist - the rest was up to the audience's perspective.
The dancers in this number displayed extreme athleticism and energy on the stage. The choreography was contemporary; however, Sakuraba focused his attention on more intricate movements. Slight head bobbing, fingertip shaking, and even movements with the dancers' mouths were all small, yet powerful details that made his piece even stronger. He also incorporated haunting eye contact with the audience, as well as a few dramatic pauses for us to soak in what was happening. A lot of the time, two dancers would be moving on the floor while the others were "frozen in time" around them - displaying different messages and showing the connections between the two characters. The most impressive and moving part about "A Lullaby to Mr. Adam" was the partner work. With a company consisting of four girls and three guys, it was executed absolutely beautifully. The girls were suspended in the air at some points, wrapped around the guys and coming down to the floor in such unique and capturing ways. They were all spot on with the choreography, bringing an intriguing idea and concept to visual life. The dancers wore plain, black clothing. There were no sets, props, or special effects - Simply because they were not needed to bring this piece to life.
If you can see a dance piece that blends the perfect amount of storytelling with room for the audience to use their own imagination, then you're in luck. I witnessed a true work of art on Sunday night, and would rush back to see Abarukas Dance Company in a heartbeat. Sabaruka's brilliant mind for choreography has captivated me, and if you like extreme creativity, fine detail, and high level dancing, then his work will surely captivate you too.