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Friday, February 24, 2012

Moving Movement — DUSK AND DAYBREAK at UHM

by Guest Contributor
Becky McGarvey 

This year’s Winter Footholds dance show at UH Mānoa, Dusk and Daybreak, is consistent in the Footholds tradition of collecting a wide range of different types of dances and themes and shaping them into one interesting dance concert. This year’s audience has the pleasure of voyaging to Japan and India (to name a few) and also through some out-of-the-ordinary places existing somewhere in each individual choreographer’s psyche.

One such piece is choreographer Antonia Brown’s “Red-Handed.” This captivating duet features a young dancer, Alison Burkhardt, with one arm completely covered in red paint up to her elbow. Not only is this a striking image against the black box Earle Ernst Lab Theatre and the dancers’ simple black costumes, but it becomes even more outstanding as Burkhardt touches her partner, Mercedes Johnson, and paints parts of her neck, arms, and back red. Beautiful quality of dancing aside, the final image of Johnson drawing Burkhardt’s red hand across her stomach and leaving a bright red gash is uncomfortably stirring, in a very good way.

The evening also includes some interesting pieces that portray very thoughtful themes and set designs. Mayu Ota and Cher Anabo, in fulfillment of their MFA degrees, use projected images as the backdrop of their dances, as well as props and specific costume design.

Ota’s “Beyond Time” depicts a woman looking at Japanese paintings in a museum and expressing the beauty and struggles of her ancestors, and Anabo’s “Salpukan: Moving Bodies, Moving Meanings” is an abstract presentation on human trafficking, including a score comprised of several people speaking on various parts of the subject. The piece is very well conceptualized: images of human trafficking projected onto the stage, the dancers all wearing girdles, and the white flowing fabric they use as a prop and a set piece give the simple stage depth as these elements shield the audience from seeing what goes on behind closed windows.

Although many of the dances have rather dark or meditative qualities to them, there are some lighter moments, such as the fusion of dance and magic tricks in Kent Shinomae’s “Just an Illusion” and BFA candidate Keely Urbanich’s senior thesis “Helicopters and Tea,” which is a very brightly colored piece that I can only assume is about helicopters…and tea.

Rohini Acharya’s “The Dance of Sound” is a well-crafted piece that uses traditional Indian dance, Bharata Natyam, to make a colorful rhythmic dance. The dancers uses the basic exercises of Bharata Natyam to create rhythms with the stomping of their feet while the choreographer plays a percussion instrument on the stage and counts aloud in Hindi.

Between the thoughtful and moving pieces and the fun and interesting pieces are BFA Candidate Cassandra Glaser’s “Family Ties,” which includes some very beautiful aerial dance work, and Sami Akuna’s experimental “15 Seconds to Repeat,” a simple, almost post-modern dance that uses the repetition of everyday movement, such as eating and talking on the phone.

The evening ends with Angie Haugejorden’s “Tranquil Purification,” in which a trio of dancers interacts with a bowl of lighted water. Whether these women are washing their face after a particularly scary nightmare or partaking in some holy worship, the dancers perform with such beautiful commitment to the movement that one can enjoy the dance without worrying about what it means.

I recommend a Winter or Spring Footholds to anyone wanting to see just how many creative ways there are to express ideas with movement. Regardless of whether you “get” the various dances or not, you will not be bored. All the pieces are premieres of student work, guaranteeing you will see something that no one else on the island has seen before and, if you keep an open mind, you might really like some of it.

Tickets and Showtimes
Feb. 22, Feb. 23, Feb. 24, Feb. 25 at 8 PM.
Feb. 26 at 2 PM.

General Admission: $15.00
Seniors, Military, UH Faculty/Staff: $14.00
Students: $12.00
UHM Students: $5.00

Photo: Copyright: All rights reserved by Kennedy Theatre @ UH Manoa

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