Bearnstow’s Hybrid

Union Hall, Vienna, Maine, July 22, 2010

A Review

Bearnstow’s Hybrid, in a benefit performance on July 22, 2010, for the Union Hall in Vienna, Maine, offered a lively and engaging program of music, media, clowning, speech act, and of course, dance. The hour of rapid rotation through different media whetted the appetite and left us wanting more.

Dancer Emmanuel Beecerra opened with Encuentro (“Encounter”), which he later described to me as an encounter with himself, a looking at himself and following himself, dramatized when

Designs for the Cyclorama, Color and ink, by Ruth Grauert

View the complete slide show here.
his arm suddenly extended, pulling his body after it, taking him away from, or toward, himself. It was a beautiful arm dance where his arms performed fluid waves, transformed into a remarkably weightless-seeming total body whirling, gravity free and light, seemingly impossible. At one point he rotated upside down, somehow balanced on one extended arm. Language is impossibly strained in trying to catch this stunning opening dance, which set the pace for performances that followed.

Carol Heddon’s six Medieval Instrumental Dances on Baroque Recorders, performed as one combined flow of music, was full of surprises and delightful changes, as when the “Italian Lament,” rich and deep and throaty, was followed by a Troica dance, suddenly high and quick and full of runs. She concluded in a performance with Mark Heddon who read a poem filled with summer trees by “an elder contemporary” poet Ted Enslin, accompanied by Carol’s summer-sounding recorder.

Lorene Bouboushian in No One Understands But You performed with an intense inward focus, her gaze introverted while she danced with dramatic, abrupt movements, sometimes of startling awkwardness, suggesting to me unbearable anxiety. The dancer’s surprisinging shouts and audible breathing created an almost hysterical soundtrack. This was an intense performance of emotional virtuosity, conveying extreme emotion under which the dancer’s balance was sometimes strained, sometimes frenetic and wild. Beautiful and engaging.

While Bouboushian was focussed inward, Iona Pace, the next performer, maintained energized, direct contact with the audience. Under-Cover Stories, a highly entertaining monologue of intimacy, humor, and liveliness, concerned her experiences as an undercover cop watching for shoplifters, from a woman who stole fishhooks to a man wanted in five states whom she caught stealing sunglasses. She concluded, revealing the man’s name (Smart) and with the comment “and that’s debatable,” and left us wanting more.

Last year I saw dancers perform against the dynamic backdrop of Ruth Grauert’s computer-generated graphic designs. The slideshow of Ruth’s Designs for the Cyclorama, now in the permanent collection of the Berman Art Museum at Ursinus College, is itself a dance of colors and configurations, which moves the viewer to participate.

In Chairs, three dancers—Becerra and Bouboushian in spotted shirts and high hats, and Lydia Merrick in a red shirt with brown hat—revolve around three chairs in synchronized and hilarious movements, at one point featuring a rhythm of exaggerted comic facial expressions. Lydia Merrick,  a young teenager, did a beautiful job of  maintaining her art with the two more experienced dancers.

Matt Dunn sang a moving acapella version of “Cat’s in the Cradle” in his clear baritone. I enjoyed hearing the song anew, transformed from the well-known Cat Stevens version.

The program concluded with a beautiful tandem dance by Becerra and Bouboushian, in which the dancers wheeled in complicated relationships of bodies in space, sometimes barely balanced and in danger of toppling, suggesting the difficulties and risks of relationships.

I left the performance feeling, as Walker Percy would say, “rotated”; it’s invigorating to have your vision regenerated, and that’s what Bearnstow always does for me.

—Pat Onion, July 25, 2010


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