"Star-Crossed Lovers: One Timeless Tale. Two Visual Retellings."
Dance Kaleidoscope enters the pantheon of retellings of the ageless tale of love/hatred between families/groups. With tragic death, can we gain wisdom/conciliation/reconciliation?
Do we really ever know what instigated that initial confrontation between like/dislike? When animosity ferments over time, be it personal, familial, or communal, hatred begets hatred. Ask children on a playground why they are being unkind to someone, and you're lucky to get a shrug and a walk away instead of a kick in the shins for stepping up. What enables a person with a grudge to gain a following—a gang to target 'an/other.'
David Hochoy and Stuart Coleman, in plumbing an event that traces back to ancient Babylon and thereby to Ovid's tale of Pyramus and Thisbe, are inviting us to explore what resides within ourselves.
In his book "Metamorphosis," Ovid asks us to grasp our power to transpose an outcome. We can change ourselves for the greater good; we can emerge into an entity of beauty. We can change ourselves for the greater good; we can emerge into an entity of beauty.
I am writing this on January 6, 2022. I am in my own moment of asking: what does it mean to act with humanity; what is my individual and collective role in creating a safe and welcoming community?
At its tenth anniversary reprise, David Hochoy's "Romeo and Juliet Fantasy" remains vividly heart-wrenching as we experience three key moments: the initial glow of attraction, the hopefulness of a life together, the senseless loss. Danced by three different partners, I again feel the wistfulness, and the weight, of time. Here and now, I am in the thrall of Marie Kuhns and Cody Miley; Emily Dyson and Justin Rainey; Aleska Coffey and Manuel Valdes.
In my mind's eye, I am back a decade ago to Caitlin Negron with Brandon Comer; Mariel Greenlee with Timothy June; Jilian Godwin with Zach Young.
Right now, I'm following the storytelling by Paige Robinson and Stuart Coleman as the parental couple while simultaneously recalling Liberty Harris with Justin David Sears-Watson, explaining their side in the tragedy they inherited.
Memory fails for the original counterparts to Emily Franks, Sarah Taylor and Eduardo Zambrana, who, at this 2022 revival, are bringing to life a story that keeps repeating itself.
What stays with me from before and buoys what is happening now is the fluidity of bodies emerging from Tchaikovsky's 'Overture-Fantasy' in the flow across the essence of love. Foretelling doom is a prelude to the ever-factious Capulets and Montagues. Street sword fighting gives way to an undercurrent of yearning that is eclipsed by antagonistic assertions. Killings, banishments, crossed messages, death. Crashing cymbals precede the tuba flowing a B natural along sixteen bars, breathtakingly embraced by the dancers as crushed love for all to see as the endpoint of seething hatred. The silent scream is ever-present.
The sky-blue gauzy costumes by Cheryl Sparks represent the essence of what is ephemeral. Laura E. Glover's lighting layers elements of depth onto the emotional surface. Every reprise of a Hochoy's work offers a deeper level of experience.
There is an intermission.
Stuart Coleman brings another retelling with his amazingly profound world premiere work, Sweet Sorrow.
Scenic designer Michael S. Drury's fractured wall of crisscrossed and fractured black-painted planks is as much a character as are the dancers. The music cuts across a contemporary array of propelling action: Hidden Citizens, Olafur Arnalds, Dash Berlin feat Thomas Gold, Luke Howard, Hans Zimmer, Jane Antonia Cornish. All new to me, all now taking me with them into a cinematic feel of events that I know will end badly but I can't stop watching.
Laura E. Glover does triple duty propelling the story, dimensionalizing the hues of Erica Johnston's costumes, and adding commentary to the action. It's a succession of sensibility plucking out as much as layering upon in split-second timing with music and movement—powerful imagery, growing with the choreography of revelatory storytelling.
Marie Kuhns and Justin Rainey grabbed hold of my heart. They embody Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Ovid's Pyramus and Thisbe, Chaucer's The Legend of Good Women, Maria and Tony of West Side Story…and…and. Yes, the outcome is ever-present because we fail to learn the consequences of hatred across time, place, and cultures, yet there is hopefulness for that brief moment. The echo is with "South Pacific," and the whisper emerges with "Fiddler on the Roof."
Natalie Clevenger seethes with centuries-embedded hatred. She is the metaphor for all who foment disunity. Her moves mesmerize. Holly Harkins and Cody Miley, as the compatriots of Romeo, are caught up in a feud for which they have no heart. Manuel Valdes prefigures the one who knows but who too is ensnared in the hapless abyss, as are the personalities representing both sides. Aleska Coffey, Emily Dyson, Emily Franks, Paige Robinson, Sarah Taylor and Eduardo Zambrana bring depth to their characters representing the attitudes of both families.
Coleman makes use of symbols from Ovid through to Shakespeare, who employs them in A Midsummer Night's Dream as well as with Romeo and Juliet. Some I easily recognize, others I have to come home and check out. Books pile up on the desk.
Who learns the redemptive power of love and compassion to do for the greater good? Who embodies the ability to change and thus embody the universal symbol of hope?
Look to The Fantastics, the world's longest-running musical adapted in 1960 by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones from Edmond Rostand's 1894 play Les Romanesques.
Why can't real life emulate a stage production?
The program is introduced on alternate dates by Kelsey Johnson and Shawnte P. Gaston, who are members of the Indianapolis Shakespeare Company.
I pull up from memory:
Two households, both alike in dignity
(In fair Verona, where we lay our scene),
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-marked love
And the continuance of their parents' rage,
Which, but their children's end, naught could remove…
Special notes from DK:
This will be company dancer Aleksa Coffey's final performance with DK before she retires after 10+ years.
Eduardo Zambrana, who joined DK's 2021-22 season as an Apprentice, is heading to Giodano Dance Chicago as a Company Member.
Please consider bringing personal notes to Aleska and to Eduardo to add to the basket at the DK table in the lobby.
Other events are happening downtown this weekend, so please give yourself extra drive time. Valet Parking will be available beginning one hour before curtain at all four performances for a fee of $20. All patrons will need to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination and ID to enter, as well as wear a mask at all times while inside IRT.
January 6 at 7 p.m.
January 7 at 8 p.m.
January 8 at 2:30 p.m. (Note Early Curtain Time)
January 9 at 2:30 p.m.
Coming up for DK:
February 4: First Friday, 6-8 p.m at DK Studios
April 30, DK's Gala at the Westin Indianapolis
May 20-22, with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra at Shrott Center for the Arts June 3-5, performances, Theatre at the Fort in Lawrence
Cover image courtesy of Lora Olive