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Wylliams / Henry Contemporary Dance Company
May 2011 Concert
Fri/Sat 13, 14 May 2011, 8pm, Performing Arts Center, Spencer Theater, 4949 Cherry (UMKC), Kansas City, Missouri
Nijawwon Matthews in Symbolic Logic II - by Sean Curran
Short into/preview by Mike Strong
8 pieces 8 - in the Spring 2011 Wylliams/Henry show - and some of them hard-won. Prior to the spring concert, four of the pieces were part of a small concert at the Nelson-Atkins Museum celebrating the aquisition of a new sculpture, "Ferment" by Roxy Paine, a "Dendroid." Or as most of us will call it, a tree. For that piece Mary Pat Henry created a new work, "Ferment" based around the growth process of the sculpture itself and of the organic growth represented in the sculpture.
"Ferment" by Roxy Paine - in place, with fresh re-sodding done and visitors along the walkway.
I should note that the sculpture is not called a tree (which it certainly looks like). It is a "dendroid" insists the artist. Well, okay, but dendroid (look it up) means tree like. Yes, it can refer to synapses and so forth but for us "un-eddy-kated" types the durn thing is a great big (56 feet high) stainless-steel artificial tree. I get to make my jokes, such as wondering at the price (The Nelson is not too revealing) when the trim-a-tree department could probably have given them a great out-of-season price for a forest of artificial Christmas trees. (Out in the Holler we likes to say, "Ha!" after that.) Despite having a little fun, go look for yourself, this is an impressive work of art. It is not everyday you have a 56-foot high tree-looking thingie in the front lawn of the Nelson. Kidding aside, I do actually like it, a lot, but I can't help noting that maybe, had they paid more, they could get a few leaves on the poor thing. (jest one more time fur us Holler folks, "Ha!")
Another version,. with a little Photoshop I gave the "leaf poor" "Tree" some badminton-racket leaves and from another shot, a badminton shuttlecock root system (the "root system" is a small tip of the hat to Jerry Uelsmann). Sorry, all, just couldn't help myself.
The very friday evening, before the sunday show at the Nelson, during studio rehearsals for "Blue," dancer Erik Sobbe came down from a leap a bit wrong and turned his right ankle. He was out of that show and the entire small Nelson concert, including the "Ferment" piece had to be re-worked. Erik was in all of those pieces. But they did get it done, and even with a stage clearly not setup for dancers or a lot of lighting, the crowd at the Nelson was enthusiastic and did a standing applause. And this was with a company, litterally slightly hobbled.
Erik Sobbe with foot up and on ice immediately after turning his ankle. Sitting with him a bit is buddy Kelanie Murphy
A mere two weeks after his injury Erik will be performing again. He looked strong in rehearsals. For the company the entire eight pieces show a range of ability and concept. Wylliams/Henry is a small company with a deep variance of material from social commentary to organic movement to comedy tinged with drama. The dancers come together from both the KC area and across the country. Some of the dancers came through the UMKC dance program as are some of the crew hired in for the show.
Erik Sobbe, in dress thursday, in Blue, the same piece he was injured in during rehearsals less than two weeks previously. At bottom, turned away, is partner Ashia Myers.
The list of pieces:
Blue - by Paula Weber - Ballet for three couples - alternating between duets, all three together, and one couple as lead duet with the other two couples paired together in separate moves. Pretty and charming.
Laddertime - by Paula Weber - started out in the March 2010 show at The Edge Gallery as a filler, literally a side show, off to the side of the audience prior to performance and during the half. Very slow movements and poses by two dancers. Not as easy as it looks.
Esperando en Silencio - by Mary Pat Henry - dramatic piece giving us the mothers of the disappeared in Argentina and their agony. Covers a lot of ground and a lot of emotion.
Session For Six - by Anna Sokolow - a new piece for Wylliams Henry - Jim May, was here a couple of months ago to set the piece on the company. A 1958 piece, It depends on counts which change for its timing. Very NYC city based in terms of young persons and their chance meetings as a result of individual activities.
Symbolic Logic - by Sean Curran - meditative piece, a mix of Irish and Indian
Unfold - by Robert Battle, the incoming artistice director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Social piece on relationships set within a spoof of dance technique using some almost over-the-top deliberate awkwardness. Robert set this piece on Wylliams / Henry in October 2008 when he was here (as artistict director of his "Battleworks" company) for a master class with UMKC dance students and when he also set a piece on the students for the 2009 spring concert, "Battlefield." (singular)
Ferment - An organic piece, emulating the growth in nature of branching structures (those dendroids). All new, commissioned for the Roxy Paine (not a tree) sculpture, "Ferment."
Drew Shuler and Chloe Abel in Ferment
Laddertime by Paula Weber: Erik Sobbe on top, Michael Tomlinson at bottom
Symbolic Logic by Sean Curran - L-R: Gavin Stewart, Erik Sobbe, Drew Shuler
Unfold by Robert Battle - Nijawwon Matthews and DeeAnna Hiett
Preparing the circle for Symbolic Logic by Sean Curran: Front: L-R: Asha Singh, Desmond Roach, in back is Hannah Benditt
Wylliams/Henry links on this site
To their website - www.wylliams-henry.org
New Dance Partners JCCC
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