It has always amazed me how expressive the human body can be: the slow curve of the back, the fold of the legs, even the flip of a ponytail can convey the bitter sorrow of heartbreak or the uncontainable joy of freedom. There is such power and tension in each sinew, in every aching stretch of muscle and the name Surface Tension was perfect for this beautifully well-choreographed, emotionally charged showcase of 5 incredible dances.
Audrey Covert, the choreographer of the first dance Tension, imagines surface tension as a drop of water being pulled in opposite directions in that moment as it hovers on the precipice of falling. Her dance skillfully captured the life’s terrifying traps, situations that nail our feet to the ground and pull our bodies in opposing directions as we attempt to set ourselves free. The bareness of the Barron and the raw, interrogative harshness of the lighting highlighted each tortured, yet fluid movement of the dancers, drawing my attention to every expressive stare of conflicted anguish. The dancers were amazing in conveying just how taxing such constant anxiety is on the body and by the time the light faded to black, I was breathing heavily too. Unexpectedly, bodies moved in the darkness up the stairs and into the audience as a female voice spoke expressively about the difficulties of love, the emotional vulnerability and risk that comes with putting your heart out into the open for him to crush. Life and love will pull us in directions we never intended to go and the dancers of Tension in a Simple Heart dipped and spun through the air like hypnotized marionette dolls, ballerinas drunk on love that bend, fold, leap, and drop to the rhythms of its desires. Crazy in love from the 50 Shades of Grey soundtrack melded perfectly with the breathless intoxication of the whole piece and I was well under its spell by the time the music faded.
The start of Tensions in Paradise had me swaying in time to the music as the dancers extended their bodies and their hands to each other, hoping to find comfort from the aches of life. However, the hypnotic beat of the music contrasted sharply with the conflict it illustrated, the dancers rejecting each other’s attempts at comfort and mimicking the tensions we experience on our streets when we turn away from the plights of the homeless. The combination of the elegant, fluid motions and the quick, sharp rebuffs created an interesting dance that provoked some serious reflection as well. Already slightly troubled, the stark intensity of Tensions in Life had me on the edge of my seat, watching the incredible synchronization of the two female dancers as they flung their bodies into the expression of the five stages of grief. Beautiful in the bare exploration of their emotions, the progression between stages was expertly choreographed and performed. From the vulnerability of the bodies strewn across the hard floor to the pure passion and unkempt vigor in which the dancers throw themselves to the ground and through the air, the pure talent of the dancers was astonishing and the complete trust they had in each other to perform leaps and lifts and extensions was admirable as I would never trust anyone enough to hold my weight in their hands.
Heart racing, the familiar notes of Uptown Funk brought a grin to my face as the last dance, Break the Tension, began. The neon wearing dancers strutted on stage with a smirk on their faces and sass firmly running through each swivel of their hips and flip of their hair. The amount of fun poured into the development of this piece was evident as the dancers brought such joyful energy to a fun routine that ended with a cheeky surprise as the dancers whipped off their shirts to reveal the word FUNK written letter by letter across the four beaming girls. The whole showcase exhibited artful story-telling and skilled performances by amazing dancers who really gave it their all to bring the narratives to life. I left tired but impressed, more than a little jealous that I have two left feet.