Each in slightly different black, white and grey costumes with a fringe here and a flap there (Costumes: Jeff Hancock) the dancers each rapidly roll their bodies across the stage in close succession. They remind of crumpled newsprint tossing across a landscape like tumbleweed. Then from a huddle emerges a dancer ensconced in silks to do aerial turns, that in this context—and especially for those of us who have logged lots of time in India and Southeast Asia—remind of fly away plastic bags that now adorn so many of the worlds’ trees.
This is Trashed—a lamentation on how we humans lose ourselves to things. A movement essay of sorts, Trashed makes its point combining aerial dance and experimental dance moves of the ground. A collaboration by choreographers Winifred Haun and Emma Serjeant, Trashed pokes us to look at how we’ve allowed STUFF to get in the way of our human connections.
The nine dancers (Solomon Bowsser, Zada Cheeks, Ariel Dorsey, Michaeld Gee, Rebekah Kuczma, Katie McDonagh, Kalea Norwood, Emma Serjeant and Catherine Wait) pass each other overhead and then race across the stage with reinforcements from Community Performers (Sydney Billings, Journey Early, Lillian Johnson, Carlos Lopez, Iris Parke, Selene Parke and Havana Stein). We feel frenzy. Dancers in unexpected zags jump into another dancer’s arms, making the drive to hoard a somatic poem before us.
Then, the sound of an older man’s voice that has a tired and sorrowful timbre tells a short story of how his hoarding was born of loss. It’s a perfect voice for the vignette.
Though Trashed snags you with its imagery and theme, you are amply rewarded if you turn your attention instead to the physical prowess of the dancers as they navigate moves up and down and in different spatial planes. At one point they sit in a line across the floor interlocking legs as one or another traverses their human necks and shoulders terrain. You don’t know whether to look at the dancer moving across or marvel at the strong necks and shoulders that make it all possible. It’s as if that core strength of aerial dance is getting its match from gravity reversing to reach up from the floor.
Having recently seen the phenomenal Malpaso perform at the Dance Center of Columbia College (Read our review - The Dance Center Hosts MALPASO DANCE COMPANY Review – Thrilling!,) it was especially remarkable to note the similarity between Malpaso’s dancer/choreographer Osnel Delgado and dancer Zada Cheeks. Both seem to bring a singular stoic face trademark to their moves to make leaps, full frontal catches of fellow dancer catapulting to their belly, and the like seem totally effortless.
Better yet, we had a chance to see Zada Cheeks with his fellow “..& Dancers” of Winifred Haun & Dancers—Solomon Bowser, Micheale Gee, Rebekah Kuczma and Kalea Norwood‑ accompany doe-eyed and graceful Ariel Dorsey perform their group’s work Bento. This pastiche choreographed by Haun includes short pieces from three other choreographers (Nick Pupillo, Randy Duncan, and Autumn Eckman) and two others inspired by choreographers Merce Cunningham and Eiko & Koma, and melds of all. Having met Haun at a tour of the MCA’s “Merce Cunningham: Common Time” exhibit, it was hard not admire how much she had previously thought of Merce and how to continue a dance conversation he started. It was “The kiss choreography” inspired by Eiko & Koma that so immediately grabbed space in our memory banks, sharing a shelf with the dramatic buildup music of Bolero. Watching Ariel Dorsey’s solos enchants- -- as she seems to gracefully flaunt her ballet bearing.
Every Day Objects Touch of Circus
And then how could we not learn to absolutely love visiting choreographer and circus artist Emma Serjeant as she brings a generous helping of fun to the performance with her “EVERY DAY OBJECTS”. There she is in impossible 6-inch red heels squeezing her body though a hoop of about a foot’s diameter from every single direction. Even the fastest minds will try to dial back to dissect just how she did it, but then get summoned to stop daydreaming and absorb Serjeant showing how to walk across eggs in their cartons, breaking smiles, but never a shell.
Let’s hope the Windy City treated Serjeant and her fellow Aussies well so they will make the return trip to perform again with Winifred Haun & Dancers. You can keep track of Winifred Haun & Dancers upcoming performances by bookmarking their website here.