Projected image for Harbour, by Ruth Grauert

Projected image for Harbour, by Ruth Grauert

A Dance Concert with

Motion, Light, and Things

Choreographed and performed by:

     Alena Giesche, Middlebury College, Vermont
     Veronica Guarneros, Colima University, Mexico
     Emma Rainwater, Hope College, Michigan

Presented by Bearnstow at the
Mt. Vernon Community Center
Friday, August 22, 2008

A Review

The Bearnstow concert held at the Mt. Vernon Community Center on Friday, August 22, was a powerful performance that moved the audience outside of their accustomed spatial relationships.

Veronica Guarneros, foreground right, Mallet (rehearsal)

That the three dancers performing the five dances in the evening’s program were deeply complementary was clear from the first suite of three dances called Things (comprised of Mallet, Jar, and Cloth).

Veronica Guarneros’s Mallet was about power and rhythm. Veronica is deeply satisfying to watch because of the precision with which she enlists every muscle to the task, and because of her effortless, gravity-less leaps in space. In her hands the seemingly animated Mallet carved out shapes in air, seemed to pull her through space with its centripetal force, and created a soundscape with loud, rhythmical hammering on the floor. During one moment I loved, Veronica’s hands were on the ground while her legs created a kind of windmill above.

In Jar, Alena Giesche performed what seemed impossible: she danced with her foot in a ten-pound breakable jar, and yet moved fluidly. Her long body sometimes controlled—and sometimes seemed controlled by—the jar, creating a contrast between the immobile jar and the grace of Alena’s movements. This dance was about weight and balance, made particularly beautiful by the precise way Alena’s length arched and curved through space.

Alena Giesche, Jar (rehearsal)

Emma Rainwater, ? (rehearsal)

Emma Rainwater gave us a third way of moving in Cloth, in which, completely folded in a deep blue cloth (through which, she explained later, she could not see), she created shapes with solid sculptural lines that reminded me of the sculptures of Henry Moore. Somehow she moved her limbs to achieve multiple unfolding planes that carried both a comic and (perhaps because I worried about her breathing) slightly sinister undertow.

Then in Doors (Café Noir), Alena and Veronica created a witty exchange with folding café doors, performing comic exchanges of irritation, hat stealing, mugging and, with the doors, suggested all the various barriers across which human relationships dance.

In a creative tour de force titled “?” Emma Rainwater sat in front of the audience, both intimate and confrontational in her intense focus. Seeming to invite response, she repeated with great animation a series of questions enclosed in the refrain: “Whatcha doing? Where ya going? Can I come? Do you wanna go? Where ya from?” The refrain speeded up with each repetition, and Emma’s face glowed with manic welcome, inviting the audience into an impossible discourse.

In Harbour—with images projected on the back wall, including the title artwork “Harbour,” by Ruth Grauert—Alena and Veronica danced in white suits, which became moving screens for the projected images. Their subtle motions emphasized the rhythms of each visual projection, creating a beautiful eye-feast.

The browns of the costumes of Motion, the final dance on the program, restored us to a simpler stage where we could concentrate on motion, particularly on the use of the back and arms, and on the rhythm of two dancers dancing in tandem while one danced a variation; the calmness and deliberateness of the piece effectively concentrated attention on motion itself—on MOTION, the bare bones of dance art.

In the discussion afterward, Emma said only one person, who served as her practice audience, had tried to answer the questions: Ruth Grauert. Ruth, who has worked in dance theater for sixty-five years and has directed Bearnstow since 1946, has given us each summer production, which answer questions we can barely formulate. Thank you, dancers! Thank you, once again, Ruth!

—Pat Onion, Professor Emerita, Colby College
Vienna, Maine, August 31, 2008


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