Thursday, July 29, 2010

On view tonight

Nestled between today's storms Karen Reedy Dance, artist/kayaker Alison Sigethy, and musician Jeff Franca brought rays of light and calm to the waterfront of Alexandria, VA.

Taking place in front of and through the Torpedo Factory, their collaboration offered sounds and sights akin to gentle breezes. There were poetic images and graceful lyricism in the dancers, percussionist and kayaker as they intertwined themes of waves and tides. The creation made me think of a beautifully tuned string instrument: not too tight, not too loose, just right.

Sigethy began the performance in a kayak, coming towards the crowd that stretched along the dock. Rolling in her boat, she turned upside down and right-side up. It was playful and soothing. Ducks passing by seemed to be perfectly choreographed into her swirls and twirls.

Dancers on the dock picked up the curving shapes of Sigethy’s choreography and the waves that enveloped her. Making patterns with their bodies, there was a sense of exploration and harmony: synchronization between the dancers, the warm evening, the crowd that gathered to watch.

The performers were distinguished by their all-white outfits: shorts, dresses, capris. They were stunning: Constance Dinapoli, Karen Dunn, Bobby Sidney, Noelle Snyder, Alexis Thury, and Rachael Venner. Their different ages and body types reflected the diversity of people in the crowd and added to a sense of balance and coexistence (I discovered after the show that Sigethy’s exhibit in the gallery is called “Art in Balance: Rhythm and Repetition”)

The onlookers followed when the dancers moved inside the Torpedo Factory and we climbed the stairs as the performers remained on the ground floor. We watched their movement from above and the impact was brilliant: they were like waves or people or interacting forces. The choreography opened itself to multiple interpretations, and the performers endowed it with a beautiful sense of investment and awareness of one another.

A duet for Alexis Thury and Rachael Venner called "Undertow" emphasized cause-and-effect or give-and-take. When Venner gestured, Thury responded by arching her back or rolling to the floor. Thury is a magnetic performer: my eyes were drawn to her smooth, liquid movements

A trio called “Beach Balls” for Karen Dunn, Noelle Snyder and Bobby Sidney was more mischievous and rambunctious. The dancers sat on, tossed, and rolled over large red balls. The music was rhythmic, interweaving layers of sound which matched perfectly with the dancers’ interactions. Ultimately, all the dancers came together for a final section called “Improvisation.” Movements may have been generated on the spot, but the sensitivity of the performers to one another added a sense of elegance.

Karen Reedy has a sophisticated way of building relationships through choreography and developing these images over time and space. Nothing feels forced or imposed or gimmicky, yet the images are stunning and the dancers are exquisitely trained. She excels at savoring the human qualities of a dancer while revealing their artistry, and this is both rare and beautiful.

She is an artist who honors craft and communication. I think the image of a finely-tuned instrument best captures this sense of grace: not too loose, not too tight.

It was an ideal evening: a sliver of time that was dry in between the rains offering a moment for us to enjoy an impeccable collaboration. I have never seen a kayaker/artist, choreographer, dancers and musician come together to create such a harmonious and exquisite interlude.

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