In his new work To The Table, a duet with Saidiya Imari, dancer and choreographer Edgar L. Page uses a massive table as a tangible metaphor for the foundation that supports a relationship’s weight, balance, and changes in dynamic. To up the ante, he gives each character a ‘home base,’ their own chair that only they can occupy. Through collision, lifting, balance, and falling amidst these moveable stations, shifts occur. That connection, this table, the negotiating, is ever-present. When it’s not, you’re in trouble! When the table is out of the way, the loss of boundary and structure gives way and the force has to go somewhere. Do you pull in, pull away, or find the table and bring something to it, old baggage or a new perspective?
Page’s inspiration for To The Table came from Imari’s longing to explore a different side of her artistry. After years as a company soloist, she wanted to stretch into the language of relationship, touch, and moving together. Because the two dancers shared nine years working with DCDC2 and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, the movement for To The Table starts from a blend of contemporary modern, African, and jazz, but Page also strives to mold and structure familiar movement into “authentic” vocabulary including working with the table. It’s “fallible as a foundation. It’s sturdy, it’s strong, but if you put stress on one side or the other, you’re fallin’!”
Erykah Badu’s song Green Eyes opens the story with a recognizable human refrain. Accused of jealousy, she sings, “No, no, my eyes are green ‘cause I eat a lot of vegetables!” The narrative catches the nuance of vulnerability and armoring as the couple put on fancy clothes to go out for the evening. The woman introduces us to the title’s promise, an agreed-upon foundation of trust. Page then moves the female character into a space of connection through the force of Aretha Franklin singing I Never Loved a Man. Part of Page’s aesthetic and challenge is to look at the physicality and movement potential for each dancer, where it can be pushed or tapped, and how emotional expression comes through the body in moments of variety and texture the audience will recognize.
Anthony Hamilton’s song Her Heart leads Page’s character past the well-worn narrative of a flawed male who doesn’t have to change to get his girl. This man is challenged to stay with his woman on nuanced terms. In fact, Page says because as a male he “gets to be strength and energy but also transparent and sorry,” dancing this role is one of the most vulnerable he’s performed.
Make it Rain–sung by Ed Sheeran– evokes a flow of back and forth, sorting and cleansing until an embrace is possible, but with the pathos of not knowing what happens afterwards. Though Page says he and Imari haven’t fallen off the table during rehearsals, they have, most delightfully, fallen into each other, a beautiful sentiment for the piece. Edgar L. Page thanks Presenting Denver for taking a chance on premiering To The Table at the 2018 Presenting Denver Dance Festival this June, proclaiming: Let your work be shown! “This experience has been amazing.”
Rebekah West spent 35 years immersed in dance; currently, she is an interdisciplinary artist-in-residence in France. Liz Lerman’s upcoming book on creative critique includes one of Rebekah’s essays and she’s in post production on a tango film she shot in her village. Her dance photography and short films have been selected for exhibition and screening worldwide. As a story finder for the Hallmark Channel’s New Morning Show, she featured Colorado artists and dancers. She is known for passionate, rhythmic, soulful choreography and integrating movement with media, theatre, and text. West created the Youth Arts Institute for the Colorado Dance Festival, taught for the National Dance Institute New Mexico, brought dance to dozens of schools, and taught flamenco. She co-founded the Kenney-West Fund for Promising Young Dancers. As artistic producer, Rebekah served Space for Dance/Boulder Dance Alliance and the Center for Arts, Media & Performance at the University of Colorado-Boulder’s ATLAS Institute for a combined twelve years where she developed spaces, artists, and public interaction. West holds an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies: Writing & Poetics and Visual Art from Naropa University and two BAs: Dance Therapy and Dance Movement Studies.