Dance Festival Mixes Motion & Art
Green Space Blooms Festival
Green Space In Long Island City LIC
It was a cool overcast April evening as I stepped down the stairs from the 36th Avenue subway station. I walked a few blocks before coming upon Green Space which is located in one of the larger buildings in this part of the Dutch Kills section of Long Island City.
I was let into the Green Space building by one of the dancers. The performance space is a large dance studio on the 3rd floor with high ceilings, a beautiful, smooth wooden floor; and windows overlooking the Queens Borough Bridge and the NYC skyline. In the photo to your right, some of the dancers are shown chatting after rehearsal, while the Queens Borough Bridge is shown traversing the East River in the background.
I was a bit late, and as I entered the studio, the rehearsal had already begun.
The Rise & Fall Rehearsal
There was music and motion, as the dancers glided through the open space. Their lithe rhythmic forms floated and bobbed around the room.
There was drama in their faces, expressions cast upon the walls. Sounds and music. At times they were actresses, other times poised models and always dancers. Life forms in motion or art through energy. Aesthetics and vibration. Indian music, rock, new age moving from speaker to speaker. Lights fading in … and out. One of the dancers in Rise & Fall is shown below.
Flying dancers, their hands swishing through the air like helicopter wings. Looks of CONSTERNATION. Creepy things were crawling all over them. A woman loses her breath and gasps wretchedly before she’s carried off stage.
Natural sounds emerge and life begins anew. The dancers awaken, drawing their forms around them, continually in motion. They reach out to us in the audience, but I am the only one during the rehearsal. One takes my hand and rubs it and the performance ends.
Waiting For Green Space Blooms Dance Festival 2011
After the rehearsal I managed to get a photo of all of the dancers in the performance I had just seen. They were not in costume, which is unfortunate, because naturally the costumes enhanced the performance as I would soon see. The dancers of Rise & Fall are shown in the photo to your left.
I met the flutist, Celina Charlier while we were waiting for the show to begin. I would hear Celina play the flute after the performances as members of the audience lingered over sips of wine and bits of cheese. Celina plays Brazilian, French and classical flute, and rather well.
The Rise & Fall – Modern Dance In Queens
The festival was introduced by Valerie Green, founder of Green Space and Dance Entropy. She gave a brief description of the work we would see, which she later supplemented with an email sent to me with the material that follows in the next paragraph.
Rise & Fall is a new work which was inspired by a trip to the Yucatan penninsula as well as a book, The Long Descent, by Michael John Greer. Essentially civilizations fall because they're based upon an unsustainable processes. Valerie notes that in the Mayans' case their civilization was unsustainable because it was based upon the energy / agriculture resource of maize [corn] using farming processes that depleted the soil. She relates this to modern America, where we continue to rely heavily upon another unsustainable resource - oil.
The dancers for the first segment came out in costumes which included purple and khaki sleeveless tops, black and grey striped pants, white collars, a white headband and a black glove. In the photo above the dancers rehearse Rise & Fall out of costume.
The Rise & Fall – Modern Dance Performance
This time while watching the dance it took on another form. It was the finished piece, structured in form, with music, clothing and lights. It opens with modern music, drama and poise. Meditated movements.
Green Space provides an intimate performance where one can literally reach out and touch the dancers. It’s as if you’re watching them in a private studio … but then of course ... you are.
On the sound system a woman vocalist segues into a rhythmic beat and jungle music. The dancers bending, contorting, reaching, writhing, grasping ..
One dancer comes in and takes another away. And then does it again. A different dancer comes in and silently coaxes the last dancer on stage to the back of it. The lights dim to black.
The motion slows and ends with one of the dancers riding another as if on a horse.
The dancers peer at their hands as though they’re staring into a looking glass. At first it’s ok and then they seem afraid. They back away from their mirrors and then off of the stage.
The dancers come forward in synchronized form, making music by slapping their hands on their thighs. The music on the speakers moves left, then right, then ... The music transitions to Indian and the dancers pair up and glide in a synchronized fashion around the dance floor in full motion. There’s symmetry in the motions and in the movements.
In the next piece the dancers fly through the air, running, kicking and moving their arms around in a helicopter formation. At various times, I find myself drawn to different dancers. Each exhibiting different levels of dramatic expression, muscular control and alluring beauty.
The death scene is not emotional, but it captures one’s full attention, as one of the dancers gasps for air [scene shown in photo to right]. This is followed by the dancers shaking in concerned anticipation of something truly aweful. The lights fade to black.
In the last segment natural sounds emerge, as the dancers slowly stretch out, like a re-awakening. There’s a refreshing rain sound. They draw their own figures with chalk, outlining their forms in motion.
Then there’s silence and they come forward to us in the audience and take our hands, gently touching, reconnecting.
Green Space Blooms Dance Festival - Intermission
Intermission flew by as I was talking to the flutist about the dance we'd just seen and artistic expression in general. The next piece was entitled ~ ~ ~
Modern Dance In Queens ~ ~ ~
These symbolic wave forms are the title of the piece. It starts out with a saxophone and a mouthpiece on the floor. Five performers slowly come out onto the stage and settle into one location of it. Two of the performers lie down and eventually they slowly pick up and start blowing on the instruments.
One musician blows a continual sound, similar to what one would hear if they heard someone blow into the sax for the first time. The second player, later in the performance, picks up and attaches the mouthpiece to the instrument and plays what sounded like an elephant snort.
The other three performers do various yoga positions and dance movements, in some sort of association with the sounds. The audience is shown in the photo to your left, as well as the next two photos below, during intermission.
Green Space Blooms Dance Festival – Awake & Dream
In the next dance the choreographer performs along with a male partner. Modern music with an uplifting melody is provides the backdrop as the two dancers rhythmically dance around the performance space in an enjoyable-to-watch duet.
Dance Performances In Queens – Eva
Eva is a dance dedicated to the choreographer’s grandmother, expressing the five aspects of her grandmother’s personality through five different dancers. In this dance, all five women are about the same height, all dressed in the same type of black leotard and they all begin by moving in synchronized manner to the music with a mechanized melody.
The dancers emerge as unique characters, representing different aspects of the same woman, and then realign in synchronized fashion to represent the one woman they are. The symmetry in motion pleased the eye and caught my attention.
During the piece there are five solos, wherein each dancer was given a vignette to perform at the front of the stage. Each dancer, one by one, danced one aspect of the woman they portray. Oftentimes they used ballet movements to perform their art.
In one of the vignettes the dancer does classical ballet. While in another, it’s completely quiet and we can hear the floor boards bend as she slowly and quietly moves across the floor. I’m lead to believe that in these vignettes the choreographer is portraying her grandmother’s moments ranging from joy to contemplation.
The music complemented the dance, with jazzy French music and vocals, which eventually transitions back into the alignment, portrayed by the dancers in the beginning of the piece. This return to oneness is complemented and supported by mechanized music. Toward the end they dance again in synchronized fashion as one woman with many dimensions.
Dance Community In LIC - Flutist, Music & Wine
After the performance ended, the flutist began playing in the background, as wine was served and the evening transitioned into another movement ...
I left the dance studio and made my way up the hill toward the subway. I found the Green Space Dance Festival fully engaging and aesthetically pleasing. And found I had a bit of spring in my step that I hadn't had before I visited the dance festival.
As of this writing, there are five days of the festival remaining. As Green Space provides an intimate performance experience in a private dance studio, I recommend buying tickets in advance. The tickets may be purchased by calling the telephone number contained in the business listing link below.
Many thanks to Valerie Green and Green Space for their hospitality. The dancers in the Rise & Fall and shown in the photos include Amy Adams, Valerie Green, Kristin Licata, Jen Painter and Julia Sabangan. The ~~~ was created and performed by Janet Aisawa, Cecilia Fontanesi, Kristin Hatleberg, Krista Martynes and Jackson Moore. Awake and Dream was performed by Fayth Caruso and Dale Harris. And Eva was choreographed by Ariel Grossman and performed by Andre Brown, Claire Cholak, Stephanie Chun, Kiley Durst and Jessica Hubbard.
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