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Saturday, October 22, 2011

dance at proctors

Next week Proctors theater will likely be filled for eight performances of "La Cage aux Folles" starring George Hamilton. That's as it should be. The show is both fun and thoughtful.
However, this week Proctors hosted two dance events that were fun and thoughtful - but they drew sparse audiences. That's too bad, but it is a start for Proctors to develop and audience as loyal for dance as it is for theater. A positive sign is there were more people in their thirties as the two dance events than will be at the eight performance of "La Cage." Hurray for that.
The Thursday night piece was "Radio and Juliet." It was the contemporary dance company Ballet Maribor interpreting Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" performed to the music of Radiohead. It was an amazing performance that was fascinating to watch. The talent of the cast was both athletic and intellectual.
Granted if you didn't know the plot was taken from "Romeo and Juliet" you might not realize it. However, what you would get was the emotional core of a tragic love story. And if you didn't get that - you'd be satisfied and thrilled with the abilities of the dancers, especially the synchronized movements of the cast.
It was a breathtaking and marvelous performance.
On Friday night Proctors offered Angel Reapers, a fusion of dance and theater that was eloquent, moody and brilliantly executed. It looks at the Shakers and its founders Ann Lee and her brother William Lee with an open and mindful eye.
The piece is as much theater as it is dance. The dance choreographed by director Martha Clarke is so integrated in the life of the piece it seems organic rather than conceived. Indeed rather than dance it is tempting to call it movement. But choreographed dance it is - with movements as simple as the Shaker faith itself and as complicated as the emotional conflicts caused by its belief in the value celibacy.
The piece gains its tension from this conflict between body and spirit. As Brother William says - mentally I'm an angel, physically I'm a man. The dance builds on the tension of adults needing a release and it is made human by the words of Alfred Uhry who has the characters eloquently express both their physical needs and their spiritual quest. One element of the production was the use of silence that was frequently profound as it drew you into the minds of the characters.
Angel Reapers is a work that keeps word and movement in perfect synch to such a degree that you hardly notice there is no music, The songs are almost chants and the dancing seems internally driven.
Angel Reapers is a beautiful and intelligent work that makes you think about both cults and the individual. It is one of the best events I've seen at Proctors this year.
Philip Morris deserves a lot of credit for scheduling the two shows. Neither production drew large crowds which is a disappointment, but it is an important step for Proctors in building an audience for the art form. His major problem will be topping these two shows.
I'm sorry for you that you probably missed them.


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