Jane Gotch’s “Let It Fall: New Dance Works” was an intimate, intense presentation.
Gotch, 2014 Charlotte Street Foundation Generative Artist fellow, directed and produced a focused collection of works in the chapel of St. Mark Hope and Peace on Troost Avenue on Friday. She shared the program with Kameron N. Saunders, each displaying their imaginative choreographic vocabularies.
The quartet of dances was tightly constructed, informed by elements of pain and struggle. The intimacy of the venue, with three long rows of seats for the witnesses, enhanced the experience, further amplified by the dancers’ expressions of anger, confusion and bafflement, their exertion evident in the visible sweat and audible breathing.
The performance opened with Mark Southerland freely improvising on his horn sculptures, silvered jingles and a sung couplet approached with absorbed intentionality.
As Southerland’s portion wound down, Leo Gayden traveled across the creaking floorboards of the performance area in a deliberate toe-heel pace, beginning “Fighting a Ghost,” which is set on Joseph Byrd’s “Four Sound*Poems.” Gayden matched the stuttering syllables with a jagged series of extended falls and tortured convulsions.
Saunders’ “Without Warning” was an inventive combination of grace and intentional awkwardness, danced excellently by DJ Duncan and Prince Lyons. The work featured slouching, sliding movements and shoulder shrugs, gestures that could almost be construed as playful, but the dancers’ demeanor never was, creating a tense, captivating display.
Duncan also performed Saunders’ “On and Off the Court,” a demanding, athletic work of rolling, writhing motions, set against the layered precision of Philip Glass.
“Let It Fall” closed the program. It was a powerful, performer-specific work built on the unique abilities of Gayden and Juliet Remmers, and a fair amount of moxie.
It was full of gutsy, individualized details, as when Gayden appeared to try to rip off his own head. Remmers’ frantic persona contrasted against Gayden’s aggressive one, their movement angular and unexpected.
As Remmers sang an aria while tenderly braiding her hair, Gayden seemed to move against his will, dropping to his knees, smashing into the floor, introducing a series of break dance poses.
They came together with a courtly gesture, spinning arm to arm, then an extended sequence of puppeted motions, possessive, yet gentle.
Crawling forward, Remmers followed Gayden’s gestures as Terry Riley’s “In C” died out, ending with a silent return to the opening phrase.
It was an astounding piece, abstracted, yet affecting, bizarre, yet engaging, questioning and challenging altogether.
The performance repeats Aug. 28 and 29, with a dinner pairing prepared by chef Craig McAlister on Saturday.