Classical Music & Dance

‘A Modern Night at the Folly’: Dance showcase features works challenging, beautiful, ambiguous, awkward

Palpable intensity permeated this year’s “A Modern Night at the Folly.”

Saturday’s performance at the historic Folly Theater, the 11 annual choreographic showcase presented by City in Motion Dance Theater, tackled social and psychological issues and featured abstract concepts with awkward beauty, challenging expectations with unexpected characters and innovative movement.

There were some familiar voices, with co-artistic director for City in Motion Andrea Skowronek’s “Tribe” opening the show (though the work raised the cultural appropriation eyebrow a bit) and Patrick Suzeau’s “Reflets Sur l’Eau” rolling, rocking motion set to the smearing dissonances in Jan Jirasek’s choral music.

Some of the works were fantastically disconcerting. Elaine Kimble-Peaks performed her “Ignis Fatuus,” an excellent solo work of distress and compulsion, tapping her forehead, rubbing her hair, yelling, quivering and fearful, movement of supple control that projected a character about to lose control.

This was paired with Jennifer Medina’s “Intermezzo,” a slight send up of dance tropes. In intentionally discomforting costumes of tulle skirt and backwards men’s shirts, the quartet performed with consternation and seriousness as they frantically scribbled in the air or over corrected their movements.

A few exuded confident auras, sexy yet non-specific.

Kameron N. Saunders’ “As We Were” was beautifully ambiguous, mastering the art of loose movement within a tightly organized framework. The three men and two women wore gauzy orange shifts, furthering the ambiguity with partnering shifts and impressive spinning lifts.

Sabrina Madison-Cannon’s “…And Then There Were Five” was a whirl of loose hair and arched backs, beautifully inventive and elicited the audience’s accolade for a impressive partnering sequence.

Also ambiguous was “The Pleiades,” choreographed by Allison Mckinzie, referring either to the stars or the mythological sisters, with sequences of holding and leading, with a graceful motif of leaning against necks.

Incorporating live music from percussionist/composer John Currey and recordings of sufferers of Parkinson’s disease, segments of M. Suzanne Ryan Strati’s “A Tulip Unfolding” offered insight and sympathy for the trials of the disease for a powerful, emotional work.

Susan Douglas Roberts’ imaginative “Spine” featured a vague narrative and pun as the duo explored — and exploded — the pages of a book.

The show ended with Andrea Schermoly’s “Fragments.” This balletic, long-limbed work was energetic and sexy, with delicious, unexpected gestural sequences.

This was a strong representation of the creative forces and talented dancers in the region, offering vitality and inspiration, despite enduring music amplified to the point of discomfort.

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