The lights go down and the band’s music rises to envelop its audience just as the dancers begin to melt into their movement. As the performers match the strength of the music they embody heartbreak, loss, and subtle sensuality.
Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre and Old Town School of Folk Music present “Inside/Out,” a preview performance showcasing two of choreographer Sherry Zunker’s most prominent contemporary and modern pieces.
Performed in an intimate and interactive setting, both pieces were prefaced by a short explanation from Sherry detailing their history, costuming, and music arrangement. The choreography had the dancers interacting with Cerqua Rivera’s immensely talented live band throughout each piece. The band’s newest singer, Typhanie Monique, is a popular jazz vocalist whose extraordinary range and performing talent transported the dancers to a greater level of execution.
The first piece, “Vent,” Sherry choreographed in 1998 following a messy divorce. As she explained in her short introduction, she used this piece to channel all of her anger and heartbreak into her artistry rather than let it overtake her. As it was the first time in almost twenty years that this piece had been performed, Sherry took the time to teach it to every one of Cerqua Rivera’s female dancers- and showcased all of them in this preview. The dancers all came out for a short demonstration, each of them beautifully precise in their movement and clearly doing justice to Sherry’s vision. After the demonstration, Sherry brought back the two dancers she had chosen to perform the piece- Miranda Borkin and Hannah Inayoshi. With this second round, singers Typhanie Monique and Juli Wood joined the dancers in the middle of the stage to lend another aspect of performance to an already enchanting piece. The dancers exuded heartbreak with power and sensuality with pain, moving some audience members to tears.
For the second piece, “Between Us,” Juli Wood broke out her famed saxophone skills to accompany Typhanie singing “Spell on You” by Annie Lennox. “Between Us” is a three-part piece involving every dancer in the company, each of whom gets the chance to showcase individual abilities. The dancers and musicians interact as if through gravity, the musicians’ haunting sound complimenting the dancers’ mesmerizing movement. The audience is left breathless as Sherry reenters, clearly pleased with Cerqua Rivera’s impeccable ability to embrace her choreography.
For readers interested in small-scale dance with immense talent, the ability to seamlessly meld live music with movement, and revivals of highly acclaimed performance pieces, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre will provide an enjoyable night.