What’s Beneath

What’s Beneath
March 13, 2017 Jane E. Werle
Photo by Francisco Estevez. Image courtesy of Cindy Brandle Dance Company.
Photo by Francisco Estevez. Image courtesy of Cindy Brandle Dance Company.

Photo by Francisco Estevez. Image courtesy of Cindy Brandle Dance Company.

Viewers of Revealed, the new work by Cindy Brandle Dance Company, first see seated dancers’ backs as they and we watch a dreamy, narrated video of those same dancers moving through nature. This audience-within-an-audience introduction prepares us for the thought-provoking nature of the performance to come. Performed March 10th, 11th, and 12th at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder, CO., Revealed challenges participants and spectators alike to look past surfaces and to dig compassionately for the reality beneath. The narration offers hints of what we might find: “Surely, I must embody everything. Peace, and hate,” and “I am imagining the after. The moment when everything becomes clear. That moment where you are, or she is, or they might be, or I am….unmasked.”

The push-and-pull feel of much of the group choreography conveys ideas of struggle, fluidity, sudden understanding, and frustrated searching. Complicated, seemingly contradictory, and thus analogous to life. Movements are sometimes almost furiously fast, and at other times precisely slow. All speeds offer a different chance for the dancers to display varying degrees of athleticism. The company and guest performers are clearly united in their apparent passion for dance and expression, and are personally invested as well. The program indicates that much of the choreography was the result of collaboration between Artistic Director Cindy Brandle and the dancers themselves.

Photo by Francisco Estevez. Image courtesy of Cindy Brandle Dance Company.

Photo by Francisco Estevez. Image courtesy of Cindy Brandle Dance Company.

The repetition of particular movements and gestures is noticeable. Perhaps this repetition indicates the “stripping of layers” mentioned in the voiceover, where each movement represents a layer, and every dancer strives to remove it by dancing–recognizing– it. This understanding lends a different significance to the solos, as the soloists could represent the self striving to exist apart from the constraining layers. This self is the essence of humanity, in that it is what’s left when pretenses are gone. The essence is not necessarily good (or bad), but it matters, and the process of exposing it is valuable. The narration also points out that this process can be a frightening one, as one might not like the essence one finds.

With Revealed, Cindy Brandle Dance Company shares an experience of the human condition. In this case that means figuring out who and how to be, in order to make connections with other beings. The method used here is like peeling an onion, where each layer removed gets a seeker closer to a true self. I imagine the layers as characteristics, behaviors, and projections (the opinions and expectations of others) that a person can come to realize are not helping in the journey to become one’s authentic self. Once all these layers are removed, a being is revealed. An authentic being can make a real connection with another authentic being, and that is arguably the purpose of life.


Jane E. Werle: At three months of age Jane E. Werle, unable to protest, was removed from Loveland, Colorado by her well-meaning parents.  In 2004 she was able to rectify this error when she relocated from Massachusetts to Boulder for graduate school.  One M.F.A. and a husband later, Jane works to further the arts in the Front Range as a writer (reviewer, interviewer, curator) and enthusiast (no-shame, first-on-the-floor amateur– despite some training– dancer).  Jane is also a longtime nanny and a visual artist, taking one of these very seriously and the other as a growth experience.  Every child she’s cared for has experienced some form of the SDP:  Spontaneous Dance Party.

X