Poetry in Motion: Luminarium’s “Secrets and Motion”

Photo: Ryan Carollo, Melenie Diarbekirian, Rose Abramoff, and Mark Kranz in A Secret in Three Phases

Luminarium’s “Secrets and Motion”
Featuring the choreography of Merli V. Guerra and Kimberleigh A. Holman

Review is based on the Sept. 14, 2013 performance
More of Luminarium’s events can be found here.

Center for the Arts at the Armory
191 Highland Ave
Somerville, MA 02143
Luminarium Dance on Facebook

Company: Rose Abramoff, Jess Chang, Melenie Diarbekirian, Jessica Jacob, Mark Kranz, Amy Mastrangelo, Katie McGrail
Guest Performers: Emily Evans, Elena Greenspan, Rachel McKeon, Jennifer Roberts, Emily Sulock
Collaborating Artists include: Larry Pratt, Photographer; Hannah Verlin, Installation Artist; Caryn Oppenheim, Poet

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Somerville) Luminarium Dance is dedicated to creating a unique experience for its audience by consistently using contemporary and modern dance with aspects of lighting to push the performance envelope. In Secrets & Motion they use the simple lighting design to compliment the choreography. The shadows created by the motion of their bodies become an extension of the dancer as well as an extension of the set. Combined with companion art installations and video that occur in the same gallery as the dance, theirs is a powerful play on poetry in motion and the mysteries hidden in the light and dark.

Kimberleigh A. Holman’s riveting “whisper, rumor, rot.” began the evening. The physical phrasing of this piece is reminiscent of an aria by composer Phillip Glass. The dancers engaged in call and response movements that echoed each other and changed with each repetition. They gathered and spread across the stage like a flock of starlings. In the blackened audience, without reading the programme, one would never guess the true title.

The second and fourth pieces were less intuitive than Holman’s opening number. “Neck-Deep (and then some),” also by Holman, begins with house and stage lights dark and uses only the ambient light from the installation art “Veil.” Dancer Amy Mastrangelo creeps her way through the audience as she writes with chalk on the Armory floor.  This piece is performed without music. Instead, poetry starting with the words, “I don’t know” are projected on the wall. It is quickly established that the poetry replaces any music that might have been used. Line after line is revealed and Mastrangelo experiences as much frustration as the artist as we the audience who cope with reading the poetry while watching her dance.

“Left is Loss (or ‘The Prelude’),” performed and choreographed by Merli V. Guerra uses the spoken words of poet Caryn Oppenheim as accompaniment.  It is a short piece but lasts long enough to cause the audience to question how dancers relate to the sounds they dance to. Guerra’s movements reflected the poetry but would have been equally as whole without it. It was a nice change from the guidelines of traditional performance.

Lastly, an odd man out, was “A Secret in Three Phases” by Holman. This piece is notable because it was the only one designed with intentional humor. The dance was still based in contemporary and modern dance but for a moment, if one watched with eyes squinted per say, it was reminiscent of classical ballet. Performers Rose Abramoff, Melenie Diarbekirian, and Mark Kranz were a joy to watch in the rest of the evening but in this piece a more plebeian audience could relax just a little.

The six pieces that were debuted last weekend were notable for the required strength and agility necessary to perform them. The ladies (and gents) of the company are not only graceful like plastic bags in electrified wind a la American Beauty but also muscled like crossfitness yogis. They make the choreography so smooth as to first lull the viewer into assuming that the moves must be easy until they commit something like a woman/woman lift and remind us that what they are doing is incredibly difficult. The dance alone is art. The choreography is subversive art because these particular women (and men) are dancing it. Simply, it’s subtle and wonderful just like the show.

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