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The Arts
June 28-July 4, 2006

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'Three Loves'

Photograph by Dave Lepori
Two Into Three: Beth Ann Namey and Willie Anderson dance 'Three Loves' for Margaret Wingrove's newest program.

Dancing Love

Margaret Wingrove sets desire in motion

By Marianne Messina

AS BRENDAN BARTHEL dances Evening Melancholy, the first piece in Margaret Wingrove's dance program "Love, Desire and Separation," the torsion in his body speaks of something wrenching; he spends a lot of time on one foot, something off-balance. Robert Schumann's Davidsbündiertänze moves upward from thunderous to light as dancer Andrea Moody joins Barthel, and the silvery grays of their clothes catch the purple lighting. Compared to Barthel's earlier spirals, the circular patterns of the couple's interplay seem to reclaim a balance. In the end, she leaves him, and he sits curled into himself, head bent. Perhaps she was only a memory.

Truthfully, it's hard to enter this intimate world of subtle body-speak, having just dashed through the remnants of rush-hour traffic. Ideally, one could first sit by a water fountain, gazing at a slide show of Edvard Munch paintings (which inspired Wingrove's choreography). And recordings of Robert Schumann's music would be playing in the background, so that when Tamriko Seprashvili and Mark Anderson sit at the piano rendering Schumann warm and alive, one would be lifted right into the dance. All the same, by the second piece, 3 Stages of a Woman, the dance world takes hold, as three dancers in succession embody Spring (Andrea Moody in pert pony tail and green/yellow garments), Summer (Lori Seymour in subdued color) and Winter (Erin Armstrong all in black). To Schumann's skippy-bouncy feel, Spring leaps, taps her feet, smiles flirtatiously, makes movement that's sometimes contrary—raison d'être is not an issue.

For Summer, the Schumann takes on an air of pomp. More grounded, less on her toes, Summer commands her space, feels her power, moves more deliberately, is aware of her musical environment; it seems that her body holds fewer surprises. Dirgelike at times, Schumann's slow, deep brooding voice through Winter blends with the blue and amber lighting of a twilight to bring us into powerful sympathy with Armstrong's moves. Where Summer planted one firm foot upon the stone bench, and Spring stood tiptoe on top of it, Winter starts and ends her dance sitting on it. There's a soft folding inward. Though her slow moves show power, they often break or crumble in the middle. At first subtly, then more blatantly, she uses her hands to move her legs. Overall, each life-stage takes on a personality, and the strong aural-visual synergy of this piece tends to fix the personalities in memory long after the dance.

Spanning the second half of the program, Three Loves returns to the idea of relationship, with the body clearly communicating emotional impact. Dancing Enraptured, Beth Ann Namey (in striking white costume by Karen McWilliams) and Willie Anderson mount a series of synchronous moves, show the trust of supporting impossible back bends (one where he holds her by just the neck), perform lifts of cooperation and support and roll on top of each other with rapture. In contrast, Zuri Goldman tries to hold on to Catharine Grow who has obviously moved on in Broken. At one point, he's on the floor trying to pull her in, but she repeatedly steps over him, looking out and away as if he's some inanimate obstacle. In the dramatic piece Obsessive, a vampiric Lori Seymour transfixes Barthel with her stare and seemingly puppeteers his body. (Wingrove, Seymour and Barthel amazingly reconstructed the dance in one day, after Barthel stepped in for Michael Howerton who hurt his back the night before opening night). When all three couples come out for the finale, each dancing a unique aspect of love, one can't help feeling the powerful impact of the varied music of relationship. The youthful audience at this show was enthusiastic as the piece ended in a tableau of relationships frozen in time—one grasping, one biting, one embracing.

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