Hedwig Dance Presents OF TIME AND TIDE – Fitting Finale to Chicago Dance Month

Editor’s Note: This is part of Picture this Post's series - CHOREOGRAPHERS' EYES - DANCERS EXPLAIN DANCE. Find more here.

Hedwig Dances’ 2017 Spring Series,  “Of Time and Tide” was a wonderful way to celebrate the end of Chicago Dance Month. This two-weekend run showcased “dances inspired by questions of place, time-sense and self.” This review covers the Friday night performance during the second weekend, including Parting Shadows by resident choreographer, Victor Alexander, and the premier of director Jan Bartoszek’s Four Strong Winds—two very distinct works highlighting the technical breadth of the company’s eclectic dancers.

Parting Shadows by Victor Alexander

The evening opened with Alexander’s Parting Shadows, a fast-paced work set to music by Julia Kent and originally performed by Hubbard Street 2. Four dancers appear on stage, presenting a beautiful sequence of intricate gestures to the sound of rhythmic ticking. This music helps to set the scene for this work inspired by the allegory of Plato’s cave, which Alexander portrays as “enchained, deluded people for whom shadows are the only reality.”

As the music shifts to a recording of exquisite strings, the movement continues to accelerate, adding the impressive floor work for which Hedwig dances is known, satiating extensions, and spiraling partnering sequences. The movement oscillated between suspended limbs and intricate acceleration. Audience members probably, as this reviewer, felt  mirror neurons firing with the very satisfying and dynamic movement that Alexander and the Hedwig dancers offered, finding difficulty staying still in seats.  As the work comes to a close, we see two dancers left on stage, referencing gestures from the beginning sequence, helping to concretize Alexander’s exploration of perception and illusion.

Four Strong Winds by Jan Bartoszek

The imagery packed Four Strong Winds, choreographed by Bartoszek in collaboration with Artistic Associate Maray Guiterrez and the Hedwig Dances ensemble, complemented the accelerated work of Alexander by adding moments of stillness and time for reflective experiences. Described as a “sense experience of cyclical time” seasonal metaphors are prevalent but often abstracted. The work begins with one dancer in a spotlight of falling red leaves, clad in a nude slip, soon to be joined by another dancer who enters her enclave of leaves by sweeping them with a broom. We begin to see the other dancers in the audience, breaking the fourth wall, carrying fresh flowers and distributing them to audience members before joining the other dancers on stage.

The movements shift between pedestrian walking and technical sequences as we witness the dancers change clothing on stage.  One dancer enters with an orange umbrella, joined by another as they enter into a playful duet. Two other couples arrive as the women are suspended on the shoulders of the male dancers, slowly walking and opening their umbrellas as they travel horizontally across the stage. The ambiance shifts rapidly as one dancer clad in a hooded winter coat performs a series of very grounded and accelerated windmills and floorwork. He interacts with another couple, embodying impactful movement phrasing to show discomfort and adversity.

This is definitely a more emotional-laden moment, as the audience can clearly see the affect of the dancers and their gazes, or at times eye contact that is deliberate averted.

The suspended lifts present in Alexander’s Parting Shadows return in this piece, accompanied by the bells of electronic composer Pantha du Prince.

The movement accelerates once more as we see all of the dancers on stage. The dancers slowly exit, leaving only one dancer walking slowly downstage, holding the hands of two other dancers who are dragging on the floor. This was a very powerful image, which seemed to be an organic ending for the work. The audience seemed to think so too as evidenced by their applause.

However, Bartoszek continued to take us on a few more journeys, bringing in themes of renewal and growth, including a visually appealing sequence in which the dancers return with their flowers, only to sweep them up with their bodies as they slide downstage. The work ended with a very jovial segment involving the unfurling of synthetic grass, which the dancers playfully dive under and over, hiding and re-emerging; a hopeful ending for Hedwig Dances’ Spring season.

For more information on Hedwig Dance and their upcoming performances please visit their website at http://www.hedwigdances.com/.

Editor’s Note: This is part of Picture this Post's series - CHOREOGRAPHERS' EYES - DANCERS EXPLAIN DANCE. Find more here.

About the Author:

Ashley Fargnoli is a dancer, choreographer, and dance/movement therapist She honed her choreographic skills at Jacob’s Pillow's Choreographers Lab and has implemented numerous dance projects around the world, including in the Balkans with the goal of ethnic reconciliation. She additionally trained in ballet and modern dance at the American Ballet Theater, Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet., and in France with the Ballet de Lorraine (Nancy), at the Conservatoire de Nantes and also performed with the National Ballet in Sarajevo. When not performing or choreographing, Ashley works with refugees as a dance/movement therapist.




Photo Credits: Grace DuVal

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