Grand Rapids Ballet Review: Collective Force
March 26, 2021 | Digital
If employing the definitions provided by Oxford Languages, a “collective force” could mean
an aggregate powerful effect of something
and this is exactly what Grand Rapids Ballet’s program Collective Force brings to its audience.
The collective in given case is a network of nine world renowned choreographers, sixteen talented dancers, and a team of videographers, costumers, designers, and administrators that have all made this production possible.
The force is multifaceted. There is the imaginative visions of the creators, the physical athleticism of the artists, and the overriding strength of many pieces coming together to make a stronger whole.
The program begins with a premiere by James Sofranko, Artistic Director of the company. Featuring Yuko Horisawa, Julia Turner, and Isaac Aoki (of whom we uncomplainingly see a lot of throughout the evening), Point of You takes us on a multimedia experience of viewing dance from different perspectives.
Accompanied live by Michigan-based musician Jordan Hamilton, the piece – although not made up of the most sophisticated choreography – had me engaged from beginning to end. In fact, in hindsight, I wonder if its simplicity is the necessary complement to Point of You‘s more intricate storyboarding.
Transitioning to and from, or coexisting with each other, are movements being performed live on the stage, recorded for the screen, or live projected onto the screen. A camera is even brought onto the stage by Turner and as it passes from one dancer’s hand to another’s, we witness the dance from both their and birds-eye perspectives.
At moments there are close-ups of the dancers’ faces when we are encouraged to decipher the intention in their eyes. For me, there’s a mixture of indifference, curiosity, and invitation to explore further.
An excerpt of Yesod by Katarzyna Skarpetowska is another provocative component of the program. Five of Grand Rapids Ballet’s men enter the stage as pedestrian, the accidental grazing of two of their shoulders provoking a cycle of action and reaction that results in an organic demonstration of cause and effect.
The occasions of aggression are reconciled in synchronicity that Skarpetowska so successfully matches to the music. Yesod is how I can now envision the butterfly effect as dance.
There are also several beautiful pas de deux on the program which explore different kinds of relationships.
Memorably, Emily Reed and Nathan Young partner each other seamlessly in Danielle Rowe’s The Old Child telling the story of the weariness caused by unrequited love.
And set to Antony and the Johnson’s song “Cripple and the Starfish”, Adam Hougland’s The Starfish is dynamically performed by Gretchen Steimle and James Cunningham, an aching display of a masochistic love.
These ballets, along with others by Edwaard Liang, Jennifer Archibald, Amy Seiwert, Penny Saunders, and Trey McIntyre can be streamed through March 28, 2021.
Featured Photo for this Grand Rapids review of Collective Force of Sarah Marley and Branden Reiners in Trey McIntyre’s In Dreams © Jackson Ray Nard
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