Every fall, teams of elite athletes gather to prove their physical prowess. Fans and alumni everywhere rejoice. Last Saturday, was the pre-season shoot-out, a preview of the regular fall season. No it wasn’t football. (I sense your surprise.) It was Momentum “Untold Stories,” Ririe-Woodbury’s annual alumni performance. A bonus evening of dance before the regular seasons start next month.
The show features works choreographed and performed by current and past members of Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company. It’s generally a mixed bag of contemporary dance performance. This year’s show had more good than bad. Take a boy ina Box treading water Watching a bird play scrabble pt. 1. Yeah that title tries way too hard and features capitalization that could only have been imagined by a 14-year-old girl (shouldn’t a heart dot that second i?). But the duet choreographed by Liberty Valentine delivered a new style of movement with an intricate intertwining of bodies.
Less successful was Tammy Metz Starr’s Saffron Days, which felt like a mash up of Singin’ in the Rain and the Care Bears. It was definitely saffron.
Intermission brought Beyond Movement/Moving Beyond, a site specific lobby installation featuring knitted yarn, organza veils with oil paint and screen prints, three dancers, and “the Triple Goddess birthing from the cosmic web.” Yeah, I snickered too. The performance was awkward and I wrote it off. (Disappointing because the piece was imagined by one of my favorite Ririe-Woodbury alumnus, Javier Cordoba.) But wait, as intermission ended the three female performers, nearly naked except for Asian-inspired markings and make up, moved oh so slowly into the theater. Then they magically stepped into the first piece of the second half. The effect was haunting, setting the stage for a beautiful performance of Cordoba’s Letting Go.
The show ended with two exceptional works. Uncongealed Vitality choreographed and performed by Aaron Draper took street dance and elevated it to an impossible, mesmerizing level. And the final duet (broken Regained) choreographed and performed by Juan Carlos Claudio and Jill Voorhees Edwards reminded me how rewarding it is when two bodies move together with such intent.