I tend to think that in the title "Women Sublime" something beyond pure bliss and supreme delight is intended, calling upon the word's once lofty meaning. True, the word continues to have overwhelming positivity about it. And so it should here, because the Dance Kaleidoscope program of a piece each by Cynthia Pratt, Mariel Greenlee, and Kiesha Lalama raises up the spirit, despite much dealing with conflict and the underside of awesomeness.
But to our ancestors, "sublime" had somewhat unsettling religious and literary connotations, as if what was being experienced as sublime was beyond wonderful, too much for us, more than a little disorienting. The ordinary is cast aside by sublimity, and that may be the best way to take in these dances that present women's perspective on questions of status, identity, vulnerability, and assertiveness.
|'Between a Kiss and a Sigh': Cody Miley and Marie Kuhns|
There are two world premieres on the program, which will be presented once more this afternoon on the main stage of Indiana Repertory Theatre. A guest choreographer with a long DK history is represented first: Cynthia Pratt's "Between a Kiss and a Sigh" is divided into five distinct movements, with five couples outlining some of the complexity of male-female relationships.
Initially, contrasting ways that men and women present themselves take place. The women's long-phrased movements, arms sweeping in curves so as to ride over the beat, are succeeded by men using more angular dance language, more locked into the music. The choreographer's whimsical nature soon comes to the fore, and an abundance of ways to represent attraction and repulsion between the sexes is delightfully displayed.
Fishing poles and bouquets are brought into play. Flirtation is laced with anxiety and frustration. Pratt has displayed what seems to be a characteristic sauciness in past work with DK, and in the new piece she extends that manner into a seriousness that feels like reconciliation as "Between a Kiss and a Sigh" concludes. There's a shift in Laura E. Glover's typically imaginative lighting design, in which dots of color sweep across the darkened stage and the dancers seem to resolve the fitful uncertainty, leavened with plenty of fun, that had made the piece a zestful comedy of manners.
|Mariel Greenlee bows out as dancer, will continue as teacher and choreographer.|
After intermission comes the second world premiere, Kiesha Lalama's "Aftermath." This work, involving the
whole company, includes Greenlee's last appearance with DK. Rarely for a dance piece, to describe the poignancy of the occasion in this work's terms would be to get into spoiler territory. Let's just say the coiled energy — the quivering perpetual-motion dynamo — of Lalama's "Catapult" broke out of my 2015 and 2017 memory vaults to build my anticipation of the new work. I was not disappointed.
|Kieran King's solo in "Aftermath"|
The sublime is truly a way of strengthening human resources for dealing with uncanny challenges and generating wonder as a result. The concept is well represented in "Women Sublime." Moreover, the program functions beautifully as a hail-and-farewell to a sublime dancer.
[Photos by Crowe's Eye Photography]