By: Tahnia Belle
Back with a breathtaking bang, Harlem Stage presents Season 12 of E-Moves, a two night dance showcase that reminds us how movement can tell our stories and express the complexity of human emotion where words fall short.
I had the pleasure of attending the opening night of E-Moves (Program A) featuring presentations from “E-Volving” choreographer Brandon “Peace” Albright as well as “E-Merging” choreographers Maria Bauman, Maurice Chestnut, Marianne Kim, Will Bond and Otis Donovan Herring. Each presentation confirms a reason why Harlem Stage’s E-Moves is an artistic gift and a Harlem treasure.
E-Moves is reflective…Opening the evening is Maria Bauman’s elegant work titled Concerning Proximity. A relationship breakup tale, the duet piece beautifully conveys the conflicting feelings of pain and love that a couple experiences as their relationship comes to an end. “We crave the human connection so much that we go through great lengths, and wrap ourselves into a pretzel to save it,” says Bauman. Using the dance devices of space and speed Bauman provides an intimate window to vulnerability, capturing the profoundness of being in a room with someone you love yet feeling completely alone.
E-Moves is a legacy…With high energy and just pure fun New Jersey native Maurice Chestnut’s Garden State Parkway pays homage to the dancers that lay the classic foundation of tap. Chestnut’s piece skillfully shows how the greats got it done then builds on their example with a treat for your soul and ears.
E-Moves is thought-provoking…The Perfect Human V1 is choreographers Marianne Kim and Will Bond’s magical take on Jørgen Leth’s 1967 short film, The Perfect Human. Kim and Bond carry the film a step further with dance as a vehicle to reveal the imperfections and at times ugliness of human life and interactions. As an audience member the piece made me reflect on the current fascination with reality television. While the voiceover which was also used in the Leth short repeated “Look at him now, Look at him all the time,” I wondered what are we really looking for? Perhaps rather than perfection we need to see imperfection in order to release ourselves from the pressures to be “perfect.”
E-Moves is healing…In Attempting to Reconcile Otis Donovan Herring offers to the audience his experience in personal growth, taking us through a course of self discovery. This contemporary piece displays that reconciliation is a process necessary for personal development, one that requires listening to the other person’s point view even if you may not want to hear what is said.
E-Moves is a celebrative journey… Same Spirit Different Movement Part II is a ride you don’t even want to blink while on because you would probably miss something special. Brandon “Peace” Albright along with the company dancers of Illstyle & Peace Productions made my inner b-girl come alive while taking the audience on a spectacular celebration of manhood and brotherhood. “A celebration of spirituality, a celebration of marital relationships whether you are married or in a relationship with someone else or even with yourself,” adds Albright. Daring you not to dance in your seat this piece fearlessly explores the concepts of maturity, relationships, universality, faith and salvation. “I’m showing people that impossible is possible, you can get there,” says Albright, “but the key to get you there is to take that spiritual journey, knowing that you come from a spiritual place.”
A unique component of the E-Moves program, is the one to one mentorship. Each E-Moves choreographer exhibits artwork that has been nurtured by a dance mentor carefully selected for each artist. Charmaine Warren, Co-Curator for E-Moves, shared with me that special attention was given to choose mentors that were either just a generation before this year’s mentees or established choreographers previously a part of E-Moves. Maria Bauman was connected with Francesca Harper; Maurice Chestnut with Dianne Walker; Marianne Kim and Will Bond worked with Kevin Wynn; Otis Donovan Herring was guided by Reggie Wilson; and Brandon“Peace” Albright was paired with Zane Booker. This part of program joins generations of “E-Merging”, “E-Volving” and “E-Stablished” dancers building the E-Moves community and legacy.
Bringing this group of choreographers to cultivate expressions of their creative development, E-Moves provides “a chance to share the work,” says Albright. Bauman believes that Harlem Stage is “an amazing incubator for artists and new work.” “Not only new work, but new work in multiple genres,” she adds. The evening was summed up perfectly in the words of award-winning dancer and choreographer George Faison who was in attendance, “The revolution is here. It started tonight.”
You can catch the repeat presentation of Program A this Friday, April 15th at 7:30 PM. Program B, which is sure to be equally as brilliant, features the work of “E-Volving” choreographer Johari Mayfield as well as “E-Merging” choreographers Miguel Anaya, Marguerite Hemmings, Daisuke Omiya and Efeya Sampson follows on Saturday, April 16th also at 7:30 PM.
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