Harsh Beauty

CD/FW company performing Kakudo.

Contemporary Dance/Forth Worth delivers three new works and some repertory favorites for March Radness.

Contemporary Dance/Fort Worth‘s spring concert, March Radness, proved that hard and aggressive modern movement can be just as satisfying to watch as the soft and fragile.

Along with the group’s previous works Organized Dances (1996), Winter Night (2011) and Kakudo (2011), CD/FW’s Friday night show at the Sanders Theatre at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center also included three new works: Anomaly; The Human Season; and beyond breathing. the uncreated. the unknown.

beyond breathing. the uncreated. the unknown. was a disturbingly beautiful solo by the captivating and long-limbed Jessica Thomas. She hypnotized us with her unfaltering gaze, at times jerky movement and moments of statue-stillness. When she gulped for breath you could physically see it radiate throughout her entire body. Her movements weren’t guided by gestures and storylines, but by some deeper need to move. This need had her running, tripping, falling and then freezing in some contorted pose. It seemed as if time stood still as she slowly uncurled one toe at a time after a back shoulder roll. The recycling instrumental recording she used only added to the hypnotic mood.

Tina Mullone lightened the mood with her solo Anomaly. Starting in a single spotlight, Mullone demonstrated the multiple shapes she could make with her body. She performed a series of quick kicks, flicks, swivels, pivots, runs and glides. As the piece progressed the movement got bigger and traveled across the stage. While lacking some of the depth of Thomas’s solo, Anomalywas upbeat, sturdy and geometrically pleasing to the eye.

Jessica Thomas in beyond breathing. the uncreated. the unknown.

The Human Season, choreographed by Claudia Orcasitas with contributions from the dancers (Ann-Marie Heilman, Julia Nova, Kristin Reed, Jessica Thomas, Jacqueline Todd and Hilary Walker), was an investigation into some of society’s most common causes of downfall, including money, power and greed. The stage lights came up just enough for us to see the six dancers shuffling their feet as they clustered together. They were dressed in suits indicative of men of Wall Street. As the recorded music by Anna Phoebe became louder, the clump broke apart and each dancer performed similar phrases of movement including gestures, hops, turns and falls that at moments had them moving in unison. The repetitive gesture of purposely straightening their imaginary ties was visually arresting.

The piece ended on a surprisingly optimist note. One by one the dancers slowly returned to the stage with their jackets bundled up in their arms. They then unraveled their jackets revealing mountains of leaves that spilled onto the floor. Shuffling, falling, rolling, and tossing motions spread the leaves covering the stage. While some viewers may have interpreted the leaves as representing money with the antagonists continuing to wallow in greed, the prop seemed more to symbolize a changing of seasons, an air of hope that people can change and society can advance. While the dancers could have experimented with the leaves more, the sentiments invoked were an effective way to close the show.

Opening with Organized Dances was a smart choice. Dressed in mostly black and striped pants and tops with ties and lapels embroidered on, the dancers looked like waitresses getting off their shifts ready to let loose after a tough day. The celebration aspect of the performance was upbeat and carefree, filled with Romanian, Hebrew and New Orleans cultural flavor. Winter Night was the opposite with each dancer performing different phrases in soft, methodical ways. A recorded piano line was interpreted through hand and finger pulses representing the falling snow. And while the live flutist’s (Jon David Johnston) role in Kakudo seemed a little disjointed, the sound matched the dancers’’ pure movements.

This review was originally posted on TheaterJones.com.



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