One: Gifts from Afar — Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers

Mandel Theater, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA,
March 22–23, 2013

A Review

Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers presents ONE: Gifts from Afar, featuring the world premiere of ONE, an exploration of humankind's rituals surrounding the drive to win using chess as a departure point. A dynamic meditation on the journey from external division to internal oneness.

Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers

Of the four dance concerts I have seen this spring, all of which shared the same theme—the coming together of disparate elements—the most successful and profound was the work of Kun-Yang Lin. The company included the dancers Liu Mo, trained in Classical Chinese Dance; Duane Lee Holland, Jr., from Rennie Harris’s hip-hop dance company; and Vuthy Ou, with a ballroom and Latin dance background. Each added his and her spice to the pot to strengthen the shared vision.

Using chess as the theme, the dance explores competition as well as compassion and unity. The stage was marked to resemble a chess board. The costumes by Heidi Barr were reminiscent of medieval dress. An original score by Cory Neale was so energizing that it was hard to for this viewer to keep still. A solo performed by Lui Mo with a long silk sleeve swept me along with the motion. A duet of compassion between women (Olive Prince and Shaness Kemp) soothed me. So many beautiful abstract moments, danced with commitment and impressive virtuosity, made for a wonderful spectator experience.

Dance in Philadelphia is alive and well. April brought a wealth of performances. In addition to Kun-Yang Lin, others included:

April 17–18: Where Heavenís Dew Divides by the Germaine Imgram Project, at The Kimmel Center. This is an inter-racial, multi-aged improvisation group supported by the Pew Foundation. The evening was a successful blending of narration, original music and dance to tell the story of slavery in the city of Philadelphia.

April 23–27: Juncture, by Group Motion Multi-Media Dance Theater and Olive Prince Dance, at The Performance Garage. Group Motion was formed in Germany in 1962 by a group of students from the Mary Wigman School. They moved to Philadelphia in 1968. Birgitta Hermann presented an outstanding solo, a Buddha-like figure, danced with mature authority. It is wonderful to see dance that is concerned with communicative values other than sheer physicality.

—Virginia Dillon