held at teatime”
is the simplistic
definition provided by
Wikipedia, gives more detail “A tea dance, or thé dansant (French: literally dancing tea) is a summer or autumn afternoon or early-evening dance from four to seven, sometimes preceded in the English countryside by a garden party” . “By 1880 it was noted “Afternoon dances are seldom given in London, but are a popular form of entertainment in the suburbs, in garrison-towns, watering-places, etc.”
I use the above references to introduce this post about dance and not at all related to tea except, I did bring my flask filled with Wood Dragon, one of my latest favorite oolongs. In addition usually, when I am introduced, someone usually mentions my tea experience.
This post is about a recent dance performance I was fortunate to attend. It was held both in the evening and the afternoon but this reference is stretching the connection quite a bit, so if you are not the least bit interested in dance Stop Reading Now!
Another special dance experience
The path to the entryway reflects the seasons change, an inspiration to those who are attentive.
Walking down the halls of this inauspicious building you are stunned by the sterile visual of inactivity. The lack of creative display, bursts of color and visions of future dreams. Only a few bulletin boards with pasted photos pay homage to the creativity the behind the closed doors.
Who would know what magic happens daily behind the sheltered portals. The students maybe, the instructor sometimes.
As in all life there are good days and bad both leading to culmination then tucked into a reservoir of memory once the semester ends.
At the performance Closed Body/Safe Heart, Center for Dance, Movement, and Somatic Learning, I was privy to what happens as a result of the dedication and hard work of the participants.
When I got back stage I was taken aback by the positive creative energy that permeated the environment. Each participant preparing to exhibit their craft and supporting each other to make the event spectacular.
There was a video in the hall that played short clips of the organization Action for Brazil’s Children Trust, a partnership of community led groups that work to assist the youth in Brazil through creativity.
The entrance to the theatre had been set up, dancers in costume depicted a street scene straight from Union Square, NY. The audience walked down the school hall greeted by fortunetellers, occupy Wall Street protesters, homeless persons, mimes, and hip hop dancers a perfect set-up in preparation for the content of this dance experience.
The performance area was small holding no more that 50 persons, the performance so beautifully created and executed would have been at home at a larger more recognized venue like New York’s Joyce Theater or Lincoln Center (a wish…one day).
The director in total focus checked the set-up and issued reminders of what needed to be done, place signs outside the entryway, empty the garbage bins, place signs for reserved seating, start the warm-up, man the ticket booth, explain the procedure, keep the dancers centered and focused. She hosted a pre-performance Company session filled with inspiration and well wishes “bring it tonight, give it all you have and leave it on that stage, when you come back next week it will be there waiting for you”
The performance began with a choreographic work by instructor Allison Armbruster-Russell called “Hey Penny” a whimsical rendition reminiscent of a Greek rite of spring celebration, lovely.
The student choreographic offerings went from a hip hop rendition laced with acceptance and rejection titled “Whitney’s Place” to a jarring, all woman, pumped with energy offering, “The Black Heart” by Luke Fontana.
Alyssa Marie Filoramo performed her work in progress “Part of the Whole” using colorful balls to enhance her expressionist movement and Kathleen Reinhardt’s “Sheeting in Action” depicting in movement how people grieve in face of loss.
Amanda Vidal’s “Your Absence in Empathy Lingers”, a tugging emotional depiction of unrequited desire for acknowledgement culminating in recognition and resolve.
The finale, “Aconteceu” by instructor Joya Powell and Ensemble Members a grande fete of choreography performed by twenty-three dancers.
The inspiration for this work, a historical socio-political dance expression, the Candelaria Massacre that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1993, was created to honor the memory of the youth whose lives were lost.
The dance, a series of movements reminiscent of the Brazilian street scenes, street vendors, passersby, and young men gathering for candomble exchange a typical day in the Cidade Maravilhosa. The build up that results in turmoil, the police firing on the group killing 8 and wounding others. The deadly reality bears many similarities to events happening today hence the relation to the current day street scene as you entered the dance space.
The movements, individual and collective, grouped and singular, were mesmerizing. The collective ensemble a haunting reflection of Pina Bausch. The centerpiece a duet donned the stage in loving expression and turmoil. A sincere and moving piece performed with perfection of execution, no easy feat for such a large group.
So moved by being part of this amazing collective I could not verbalize my thoughts after the performance. I felt the need to recognize the efforts of the participants. I wanted to share my appreciation so I wrote:
We all see dance differently, what I saw at these performances was so much more than dance.
Oh and by the way, I did have a lengthy discussion with one young performer about tea and introduced him to a new offering, “it’s always about tea” , total experience abounding.