BWW Reviews: BalaSole Dance Company Focuses on Artistic Freedom and Process in VOCES, 1/26 and 1/27
Voces meaning "voices" in Italian seemed to be the most appropriate title for this past weekend's BalaSole Dance Company's performance at the Joan Weill Center for Dance at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre. Under the executive and artistic direction of Roberto Villanueva, the company provides its dancers with the means to explore their own process of dance-making and present their work.
The evening began and ended with a piece choreographed and performed by the company, the rest was a compilation of solos choreographed and performed by the individual company members. Based on the mission of the company, these dancers have varying backgrounds, have trained in various dance styles and come together to support each other's creative process.
In a culture driven by the need to satisfy end points and goals, BalaSole's emphasis on the creative process is extremely refreshing. Generally one goes to see a show with the mindset that each dancer is part of a larger collective. These dancers have rehearsed for many months if not years together, and generally, under the direction of one person, the company seeks to establish an evening of repertoire that is consistent and polished. But here there was a difference.
The dancers choreographed their own solos, in the style of their choice and to the music of their choice. It was interesting to see what each dancer elected to explore. Many of the pieces, including #Lovesick, performed and choreographed by Aaron Gregory, and 2 Tears in a Bucket, performed and choreographed by TRoy Barnes, appeared to have deep roots in exploring emotion and performance in dance. While both dancers added technical and virtuosic movement to their choreography, the dances were highly emotive and reached the audience on a level of feeling that all of us can share.
Other dancers appeared to be exploring more technical or compositional aspects in their pieces. We Could What if All Day, performed and choreographed by Jessica Cipriano, had beautiful technical aspects layered throughout. Her performance was touching and she added text to the beginning of the piece that added an interesting layer. However, the focus of her choreography centered on strong technical abilities which were lovely to watch.
While all of the solos were enjoyable and each dancer did very well at choreographing to his/her strengths, two solos greatly stood out as having captured several elements of dance making. Keeping with the Cage, an excerpt, which was choreographed by Debra Fernandez and Emily Pacilio and performed by Pacilio, was strikingly layered. The music of the piece added a sound accompaniment that offered a basis for movement exploration. The choreography was innovative and seemed to perfectly coincide with the music that was chosen. Emily Pacilio danced the solo beautifully. She had an air of confidence that entrances any audience member and she remained present throughout the piece. Node Beat, performed and choreographed by Andrew Nemr was a deep exploration of sound in dance. He provided the pre-recorded accompaniment that contained a series of notes and beats. He then tapped accordingly and together with the music made a very beautiful harmony. Since tap is very often used solely as a communicative or performance dance style, it was wonderful to see it used in a more explorative and contemporary way.
At the end of the program, I had a deep respect for each artist's creative process and for Roberto Villanueva's vision. It was fulfilling to see such vast and varying artistry emerge from a diverse group of movers, and the audience seemed quite touched by the talent and expressivity performed on stage.
Photo Credit: Maggie Picard Photography