|On These Tracks by SPUNKandCOmpany Dance.|
Photo: Rob Loud.
Last night I had the pleasure of viewing SPUNKandCOmpany Dance's newest performance On These Tracks. Held at Green Street Studios in Cambridge MA, the show received a full and appreciative audience.
For those in the field of dance, this performance certainly did not offer anything new, nor did it push boundaries. From costuming to choreographic structures, the show played out like a series of college composition classes, with each new piece acting as a study. Yet simplicity is not always negative, and by the end of the night, it became clear that these nine new works had engaged the audience on a quieter, more intimate level than any comp class could.
SPUNKandCO's mission behind the scenes as a "strictly collaborative" ensemble is heightened by the strong individuality encouraged of each dancer on stage. Performers Kara Fili, Jillian Grunnah, Andria LaRocco, Miriam Lundgren, and Tara McCrystal each bring their own unique qualities to the work--from body type to movement style to emotional interpretations of the work--and by the end of the night, we feel we know each of them personally as a result.
Collectively, On These Tracks benefitted from this as well. Inspired by Steven Millhauser's novella Enchanted Night featuring "quirky characters who intersect, collide, and nearly miss each other, illuminating the inherent closeness of us all," the performance offered a series of moments, and in each the characters found new ways to connect through physical and emotional intersection. With the stage set bare and wing-free, and the thought behind each new work inherently simple, On These Tracks urged viewers to relax, observe, and (for once in the world of art) to not over-think. With time, these simple scenes added up to create a whole that snuck up on us: Our own internal introspection.
Though a largely somber series, works such as Grunnah's Peek-a-Boo and Fili's Out to Play offered much-needed comedy and a breath of fresh air, keeping the overall feel of the show light and charismatic. Visual and choreographic repetition between the first and last works (Restless and Dawn, both facilitated by McCrystal) helped the show come full circle, while the sheer brevity of McCrystal's solo work Recall left the audience satisfyingly caught mid-breath. Still, it was the final work that pulled the audience inside the performance for the first time. Drawing back the curtain to reveal the theater's masquerade from its ordinary daily studio, and bringing the dancers downstage within feet of the audience, Dawn allowed us to feel intimately connected to these five characters, while even tempted to join them on their trek. Wonderfully aiding this final moment was the show's lighting designer Jon Bonner, whose lighting choices helped connect the dots beautifully throughout the evening.
In the end, if your goal as an audience member or regional presenter is to support a production pioneering new possibilities in the world of dance, On These Tracks may leave you wanting. But if you are a thinker, a reader, an onlooker, or a daydreamer, On These Tracks will offer you an outlet to put aside the theatricality of professional dance, and instead enjoy the freedom of sincerity through movement.
Learn more about SPUNKandCOmpany at their website.