BWW Reviews: Lindsay Nelko's AWAKENING
Awakening was an evening full of talented dancers, with credits including So You Think You Can Dance, Billy Elliot, Miami City Ballet, After Midnight, and Radio City Christmas Spectacular. A surprise guest appearance was also made by Alex Wong, former So You Think You Can Dance contestant and cast member of Newsies on Broadway. With such a talented cast and choreographer (Lindsay Nelko), who has an impressive list of credits, including So You Think You Can Dance and X-Factor, I had high hopes for the evening.
Unfortunately, I found the choreography for this show to be lacking. Most of the movement featured running and lifts, with little more variety than that. My personal choreography preference is for more movement, and less running across the stage. The choreography did not highlight the magnificent talents of the cast members, nor did it show off their wide range of skills. With an ensemble this incredible, I was hoping that the choreography would show off exactly how talented these dancers are. The dancers did their best with the material they were given though, and still managed to put on an excellent performance.
Not only was the choreography lacking, but the entire mood of the performance made it difficult to get through. Awakening took place on a gorgeous, sunny, summer day, but the show, however, did not match the weather outside. The tone, in fact was quite dark and negative. The performance was meant to span life's journey, showcasing different moments in a person's life, including fear, courage, anxiety and love. But the show focused primarily on the negative, with only a few glimpses of happiness and hope. At one point in the show, I heard an audience member exclaim, "Just when I thought things were getting better!" I had to agree. I would have liked to see more of life's happier moments interspersed throughout the performance, rather than the constant pain,fear, anxiety, and death.
While most of the show did not stand out to me- the repetitive story, weak choreography, and lack of anything new or exciting to set this show apart- there were some high moments in the show. Alex Wong, for one, was a great surprise, and received the strongest applause of any performance in the show. He was truly a star in his solo, "Mirage", and deserved more stage time than he was allowed. I could have watched his incredible strength, gorgeous lines, and stunning turns all evening long.
"Dysmorphia" was a haunting number that spoke to me more than any other piece performed. It featured all of the female dancers in black lingerie, facing a mirror that stretched completely across the back of the stage. The dancers were haunted and trapped by their reflections, unable to break away, no matter how hard they tried. The amazing performance of this female ensemble caused their message to remain with me well after the show was over.
"In Harms Way" was another audience favorite. This gorgeous duet about love and death showed the dangers of giving oneself fully over to someone else, trusting them with one's life and love. The choreography was beautiful, the dancing forceful and strong, and the acting passionate. Youngsil Kim and Barton Cowperthwaite were yet another incredible duo in "Ascension." Nelko's true talents shone through her duets.
"Lifeline" was a much-needed, happy refrain in the show, which helped to liven the somber mood and add some positive energy to the depressing themes of the performance. The show could have been much improved with more moments like this piece.
The best part of Awakening was the talented dance ensemble who made the story come to life. They truly did their best with the choreography they were given. My enjoyment of Awakening was due to the total commitment that these dancers gave to this performance.