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By Peggy Sue Dunigan
“Sitting on chairs upholstered with stars,’’ a quote from Milwaukee’s Poet Laureate Susan Firer used in one of the evening’s dance presentations, describes the Danceworks production Have a Seat featured this past weekend. Five numbers choreographed with chairs and overseen by Guest Artistic Director Janet Lilly cohesively define the performance. This included two world premieres incorporating international choreographers Isabelle Kralj from Slovenia and Navtej Johar from India.
While the physical reality of sitting in a chair and the art of dancing might appear contradictory, the two blended seamlessly. A variety of benches, loveseats, and colored chairs enhanced the dance narratives, especially in the second selection. Kralj’s “I Still Don’t Know” displayed varying dimensions of a love relationship danced superbly by Slovenian performers Dejan Srhoj and Ursa Vidmar, often depicted by the distance between their two chairs. “To Sit or To Be,” an avant-garde piece with metaphysical meaning that was choreographed and performed by Navtej Johar, contemplated statuesque poses with witty overtones. And Janet Lilly’s “Glacial Milk” offered a humorous peek at dance to great effect, which included her own dialog. Costumes enhanced both selections, in the first Johar’s flowing gauze pants, and in Lilly’s a full skirted red dress that twirled to her dance. The last piece “Immediate Seating” appeared to imagine a child’s game of musical chairs intertwined with somber country themes of broken homes. Primary crayon colored chairs, eyelet dresses with red leggings, and Raggedy Ann dolls added to the world premiere’s tone and style, admirably danced by the company.
If you missed Have A Seat this past weekend, their upcoming production The Bra Project will January 23 through February 1. Danceworks provides an innovative and intriguing evening opening the audience to the narrative expression of dance through body movements. They also demonstrate that age becomes irrelevant when viewing or performing their selections, and each evening encourages the audience’s appreciation for the skill of both dancer and choreographer. VS