ka·nei·see | collective

October 13th, “Movement for Sound”

Watching Dance with Others, Part I

Back in October, I took my 6yr old daughter with me over to Shawl-Anderson Dance Center to watch 5 dancers respond to the music of Michael Wall. She was nervous and we were almost late but got settled quickly on the last cushions up front in a large studio converted into a cozy performance space. I brought her for two reasons: 1) this kid loves music and 2) the show started at 6pm. After the hour-long performance, we were home by her bedtime.

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The evening featured 5 responses to Wall’s music: Simpson/Stulberg Collaborations, dazaun.dance, Dana Lawton Dancers, ka⋅nei⋅see⎥ collective, and Molly Heller. What stood out to me was how the live music that accompanied the first and last pieces amplified the physical space and resonated through bodies moving, gesturing, and gazing. In Still Life No. 1+5+7, choreographed by Lauren Simpson and Jenny Stulberg and danced by Stulberg, the music didn’t just fill in the dance’s movements of stillness but amplified them to generate a lingering emptiness full with potential. In Heartland, choreographed and danced by Heller, the music “danced” along with Heller, adding to messages of must-ness, persistence, and unrelenting-ness. When I asked my daughter about the show she said she liked Daybreak the best; she enjoyed how all the women danced together.

The best part of the night really wasn’t the dancing or the music but spending time with daughter watching and talking dance.

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October 8th, “Readymade”

Choreographed by Tanya Chianese

I’ll start with a point of reference, a quote by David Batchelor (a Scottish artist and writer) that repeated near the beginning and end of Readymade:

…and, you know, I think the aim of a lot of artists is to get people to look more closely at that which you often overlook.”

The repeating of this quote gave me pause, and I wondered what Chianese wanted us to look at more closely. About mid-way through the hour-long piece something struck me. Could Chianese be asking us to remember that we are the “readymade”? What are we overlooking in ourselves?

As Chianese mentions in her program notes, “Readymade is not about Duchamp’s work, but instead, aims to invoke his iconic idea of the do-it-yourself power to reshape one’s own life by changing how we view things.” This impulse is evident in the titles to the 14 sections of the dance – “What If?”, “Stop and Smell the Roses”, and “You Only Live Once,” for example. I could sense this impulse in the opening of the dance. The movement of afile_000-25rms and bodies in between three wide “ribbons” across the length of the stage hinted at how the intertwining of parts could be a reshaping or refashioning of what we might otherwise overlook.

This impulse is also evident at the end when a dancer walks out on stage with a piece of tissue stuck to her foot. She bends down and picks it up, looking as if she might toss it over her shoulder, like a piece of trash. Instead, she sees something else in that piece of tissue and decides with a smile to send it into the sky by blowing on it softly.

The music that accompanies Readymade reflects this whimsical spirit and amplifies the playful yet thoughtful tone of the piece. What is also very clear and uncompromising is the choreography and its execution by the dancers of ka·nei·see | collective. The movement quality was robust both in temperament and reach. The dancers never gave up, committing fully to each change of mood and intensity. The dance almost never stopped, but at one point during a long diagonal sequence, the dancers let their weariness show. I enjoyed the subtle humor and yearned for more. It seems a worthwhile sentiment to explore right now as well as in the context of the dance’s message to pay attention to what we normally overlook in ourselves.  How can we with a bit of humor start to rethink ourselves and how we see the world we’ve made?

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Source: Rob Best

Honestly, I wasn’t sure of all this when I left the theater, but an encounter with a friend a few days later opened my eyes to what I might have overlooked in the dance. It was an important reminder to me that I am a much better watcher (and writer) when I am in the company of good conversation about dance.