Kyle Abraham

May 18th, “Dearest Home,” Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion

Before the show began, Abraham offered us a choice: watch the show in silence or with music via earbuds. He warned us to stick with our choice as switching between them can be disruptive to watching. He also mentioned that the dancers rehearsed in silence, which is how they perform the piece. I found this direction distracting (almost annoying) and I ignored it. I started with the music and then at random times throughout the 70-minute piece, I turned the volume off and watched in silence – I could hear the dancers breathing and the sound of their bodies moving.

I did not read the program notes. I don’t think it would have made a difference for me. My expectations were high. I rather enjoyed Pavement  (2015) for its movement quality, and more importantly, for how it didn’t let us off that easy.  I thought I might experience more of the same. The dancing and dancers were exceptional and certain choreographic moments stood out. Yet, Dearest Home seemed to be missing something for me so I did a little research, looking for insight.

The text that accompanies the promotion video (about 1 minute in length) on Vimeo states that:

“DEAREST HOME is an interactive dance work developed in a multi-year process, focused on Loving and Longing, Love and Loss. Comprised primarily of solos and duets generated in conversation and collaboration with a variety of age groups and self-identified subcultures, HOME interweaves movement, in its most vulnerable or intimate state, with cross-cultural conversation and community action.”

I could feel the sentimentally of loving and longing, love and loss. At times the mood was melancholic, even dramatic. Yet, I did not feel the embrace of conversation or community. The stage was set for it; an intimate in-the-round space where you could see others watching at times.  

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Dearest Home is deeply personal. Yet, I also think of home as a concept and social construct that is also deeply political, particularly in San Francisco. Perhaps I was expecting or even needing, the dance to think more critically about home. I did not stay for the talkback after the show. Instead, I stayed out late (for me) with friends to discuss our mutual dissatisfaction. I was thankful for the conversation, for the chance to share reactions and tell stories. And, I was thankful to for a home to go home to.

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February 19th, “Pavement”

Choreographed by Kyle Abraham

Abraham doesn’t let us off that easy and I’m glad.

I was captivated.  The technical precision and freshness of form was divine. And then there was the music, Bach and Vivaldi – I didn’t see that coming and it was treat.  I felt a sense of deep satisfaction in the bringing together of classical rhythm and Abraham’s hip hop aesthetic. The dance told a history and asked questions about our present moment.  This is a present struggling to make sense of what has happened to our streets and the “law and order” that keeps repeating.

January 16th Wendy Whelan “Restless Creature”

Choreography by Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks and Alejandro Cerrudo

Can one escape 20+ years of habit?  

Even with four different choreographers, Whelan still seemed very much “the same.” There is no doubt that Whelan is a beautiful mover, but is she a restless creature?   Perhaps, but she seemed held (hostage) by her history.  There were flashes of the classical throughout the four dances, but it was the articulations of her feet and grace of her arms that oozed ballerina.  For me, her habit stood out more than anything else.

What is the fascination (a kind of fetish) of seeing what happens to ballerinas after they leave the comfort of their companies, mentors, tutus, and partners?  What does it matter for mean for Whelan to be different on the stage – or at least trying to be different on the stage?  

In many ways, I was restless for Whelan.  I yearned for something more radical than her hair falling out of its tightly constructed bun.