‘Liquid Backbone’: Dance movie – Dance Informa Journal

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Cape Ann, Maine.
Streaming by way of Vimeo.

Within the waning phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, the dance world – identical to the world at massive – is juggling many dynamics up within the air. Dance artists are exploring tips on how to carry ahead the (in some ways compulsory) deep-dives into dance movie that they did over the previous two-plus years. Many are additionally more and more drawn to discover themes of social affect of their work — in methods which can be creatively nurturing, resonant with audiences and lasting. 

Liquid Backbone, a brief environmentally-focused dance movie, confirmed a doubtlessly fairly fruitful path ahead in balancing these dynamics particularly (of the numerous that the dance world is at present juggling) – in social affect dance movie that’s each nice artwork and successfully underscores an necessary message.

For one, the work saved trustworthy human feeling at its root – but feeling that stopped wanting melodrama. For 2, it labored by a delightful “much less is extra” ethos – permitting what it was to be sufficient, shining via in its personal manner. It stood for example of how dance artwork can transfer us ahead, amidst all the challenges that we face, with honesty and coronary heart. Katie Pastuzzi contributed choreography and movie route.

The movie opens on two dancers – Keegan Scesny and Lonnie Anela O’kalani Neff Stanton – transferring collectively in water. Past them lies rocky shoreline and towering pines – all beneath cloudless, infinite sky. Typically submerged, typically rising, they undulate as fluidly because the water round them. 

Simply as creatures greater than at residence in water, but distinct from it, they’re in full concord with one another and their environment – but additionally autonomous. They embody steadiness between independence and connection. The rating, as all through the work, equally brings collectively diverging qualities, to pleasing impact; it sharpens the emotional valence at hand, but additionally leaves house for viewers to paint of their personal traces of feeling. 

A notable shift comes after they see a plastic water bottle floating towards them (combined media artwork by Rubbish Gal). They stare upon it, virtually perplexed – reflecting an innocence in direction of the hurt in direction of their world that it represents. On the similar time, one thing protecting arises from inside them; they push the bottle away. Then enters an excellent deal extra of that threatening, if mysterious substance seemingly so alien to them: one other dancer (Meredith Worth) caught and surrounded by plastic and different remnants of human consumption. 

Worth struggles to remain afloat, her motions of swimming constrained by varied bottles and luggage entwining her limbs. One can see right here the common and timeless wrestle – and will – to outlive. A internet holds a lot of the waste on her: reminiscing ocean wildlife caught in careless human nets. She is expressionless; has she misplaced hope? Like a creature in a combat for its life, have all capabilities shut down aside from these which contribute to that combat? 

Gradual-motion videography has me intrigued, as a artistic selection. In a manner, it helps construct emotional resonance by permitting sure moments to linger – like a bell rung via a quiet metropolis sq..

One other chapter on this brief story begins when the three dancers step unto land. Scesny and Neff Stanton help Worth, strolling together with her on both facet and holding both of her arms. 

At this level, I additionally discover potential that means inside costumes. Neff Stanton and Scesny put on muted earth tones, in tunic-like attire — malleable clean slates of shade and feeling, malleable as they’re in motion and emotion all through the work. Worth, nevertheless, wears extra shade and definitive cuts: a power of extra fixed willpower and resolve because the movie progresses. 

Resolve and willpower certainly; with each mind and brawn, mind and bodily power, she frees herself from the plastic surrounding her as she stands tall and proud on the shoreline. She sheds each weight and bodily limitation. The 2 others stand by, in stillness but additionally a presence of distinct intention – performing as protectors. With a delicate, but notable construct within the rating, this feels just like the form of victory (smaller or bigger, all thought of) that brings rays of hope. There may be small victories whereas there may be nonetheless work to do. 

In unstated mutual understanding, the three movers be part of to assault that work left to do. Whereas Neff Stanton and Scesny’s personas had been beforehand harmless onlookers, looking for understanding of one thing coming their manner that had been so very international to them, a brand new hearth of company appears to burn in them now. That stated, the performers keep away from giving off something too heavy-handed or neatly spelled-out – so viewers can’t actually know the precise nature of their ideas and emotions. That form of thriller and abstraction may be one of the thrilling issues about modern dance.

With that new resolve, and Worth newly free of her plastic chains, they head again into the ocean. Once more becoming a member of mind and brawn, they work collectively to collect floating trash. By means of aggregation, their efforts appear to change into greater than the sum of their components. Even with their vitality honed on undertaking a concrete activity, their motion stays harmonious and aqueous. They form shift round one another, the supplies they’re gathering and one another – like jellyfish however with bones to help and defend the softer buildings of their bodily being.

In an impactful picture towards the top, the three ladies stroll out of the ocean with the trash that they’ve gathered. To nice impact, Pastuzzi’s videography provides a number of such resonant photos all through the movie. They’re unified however impartial, joined in mission and understanding but additionally ruled by nobody’s will however their very own. The digital camera then pans towards the indescribably huge sky — previous sand, ocean and majestic evergreens.

Seen with sure eyes, that limitless sky may maintain hope; regardless of all that we face, are our prospects additionally boundless? With honesty, authenticity and remembering that much less may be so, a lot extra, simply perhaps they’re. Works like Liquid Backbone can shine a lightweight down such a path, a path that might be simply the one we want. 

By Kathryn Boland of Dance Informa. 









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