Set to six numbers from the band’s repertoire, the work had a jukebox feel to it. The least intricate costumes of the program, the wardrobe (monotone pedestrian outfits) became a backdrop to the dancing, music, and lighting.
Davison starts the piece with a slow walk on for dancer Jonathan Carter and then a break in the fourth wall as he looks at the audience, inviting us in. Later, Carter shows great technical skill in a demanding solo and then dramatic pause when the group gently hoist him up as if to say “we are here”.
Davison’s movements are festive and warm; soft knees and open palm gestures echo the folk-rock essence of the tunes. Particularly beautiful was a quick, repeated moment: bodies braided in a line of curved arms, only to unfold in a canon as soon as the braid was complete.
Later she creates a labyrinthine celestial knot with her eight dancers, weaving them in and out of each other in an elevated square dance. Moments like these are peppered amongst uncomplicated steps like simple skips or suspended stag jumps.
Would I say it is a happy piece? Yes. Would I say it is purely joy? No. There are morsels of sadness dotted throughout which get extinguished by a bright run or friendly lift. In doing so, Davison carves a space of merriment and delight for the dancers.
With no shortness of talent and a desire for the fresh and new, American Repertory Ballet is a gem of a dance company and just a short train ride away from the city.