Art to Art delivers fresh collaborations

Danceworks' annual performance highlights the talents of Milwaukee's many creatives, with lovely results.

By - Aug 3rd, 2013 08:48 pm
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Danceworks’ annual Art to Art event celebrates the power of artistic collaboration, showcasing musicians, dancers, videographers and choreographers in smart pairings. Friday night’s opening delivered on creativity and innovative teamwork, with an evening of lovely performances.

Hildegarde

Hannah Marquardt and Catey Ott Thompson, “Keeping up with Hildegard”

Colleen Hooper collaborated with Joëlle Worm in Let’s Keep in Touch, incorporating a backdrop of smartly edited video chats (by Rori Smith). Worm and Hooper slowly tell their long-distance story with clever choreography. The women take turns jumping and running around the space, slowing down at times to allow a silhouette to accompany the video footage behind them.

The piece speaks to our ever-reaching means of communication. Hooper and Worm share the space, but never interact. Each sporadically speaks to herself as if on the phone, with a simple “yeah, uh huh, sure” sent out to the ether. Drake Z. Tyler’s music composition echoes technological crackles and beeps, emphasizing Hooper and Worm’s attempts at connection. They open and close their fingers over and over as if searching for a signal. Near the end they finally synchronize their choreography, yet they still never intertwine. The sense of missing something, or someone, is palpable.

Catey Ott Thompson choreographed a quirky Keeping Up with Hildegarde – an homage to the cabaret singer of the same name, who happened to be Thompson’s grandmother’s cousin. The piece performs like a play, with lots of talking between Thompson (a “downstairs dancer” personality who is the flirt, the performer, the star) and Hannah Marquardt (the “upstairs dancer,” tasked with regime-keeping and exercises of the body and mind). The dancing, cutesy with lots of smiling and bouncing, is interspersed between those conversations, set to Hildegarde’s girly, vintage hits. Glitzy, but Thompson’s piece could benefit from taking an ax to the dialogue in between.

(Insert Title Here)’s improvisational structure created a frantic aura, set to Steve Schlei’s experimental composition. Schlei sat atop an amp with an iPad in hand and looping pedals at his feet, directing dancers Kara Mulrooney, Claudia Sol and Jenni Reinke on a whim across the floor. The music tilted and swerved and accelerated as Schlei saw fit, while the women either matched or juxtaposed its sound. Though all three dancers performed with creative energy, my eye continually favored Sol’s fluidity and ease against Mulrooney and Reinke’s malfunctioning limbs.

Ego presented recent UWM Dance grad José A. Luis in an original solo piece, with a haunting composition by Warren Enstrom. Luis blew me away in Rooftop Dance last month, and after this Art to Art performance he should certainly be a dancer you look forward to seeing.

Re-mold

Marquita Redd and Kim Loper performing “Re-mold”

Luis begins by blindfolding himself in a corner opposite TVs playing looped, distorted video (by Kellie Bronikowski). After a moment of darkness, Luis crawls across the floor like a prisoner devoid of strength, dragging his weight. He is slow and methodical as he twists, arches and bends across the space. As the music accelerates, Luis does the same, transitioning seamlessly from floor work to big, tall movements and back again. Keep in mind, this dude is blindfolded, effortlessly using the entire space in a spellbinding performance.

Marquita Redd’s duet Re-mold showcased Redd’s impressive choreography skills, dancing alongside Kim Loper in a beautifully stuttering piece. The storyline is curious, incorporating a multitude of plaster masks which the dancers sporadically pick up, contemplate, and try on. It’s clear that the masks cloud the dancers’ natural spirits—their movements become labored and they stumble through their steps. It seems a commentary on choosing to be your true self, though I won’t venture further. But Re-mold (and Redd in particular) presents an array of gorgeous steps that feel eccentric and new.

ICON

Aaron Schleicher and Dawn Springer performing “ICON”

Aaron Schleicher and Dawn Springer’s ICON closed the evening, a hypnotizing work dedicated to the power of the slow-burn. As Schleicher’s electric guitar accompaniment built on itself with the help of a looping pedal, Springer remained upstage left, squarely facing the crowd, repeating a layer of subtle movements. Her face was composed and placid, her choreography never hurried. Any new motion delivered a quiet thrill, then disappeared into the mesmerizing routine.

At the climax of Schleicher’s composition, Springer turns on her heel and races around the perimeter at a dead sprint, sometimes crashing against the wall to slow her momentum into a turn. The juxtaposition from her earlier movements is astonishing. All she’s doing is running, but it’s invigorating in its alarm.

Catch Art to Art’s last performance at 2:3o p.m. Sunday, August 4th. Tickets are $15, $10 for students and seniors available online or call (414) 277-8480.

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