Born from a series of writing workshops, The Edge of Us is a passionate progression through stages of the curiously universal experience of loneliness. Dance is used as a medium through which the words and concerns of the participating community become a part of a larger discussion. While loneliness may be particularly hard to articulate, as one dynamic dancer reminded us, it is worth noting that we may not always have to explain it, because everyone has felt it.
The merging of ideas, music and movement is surprisingly seamless. At times, I felt that I was attending a party whose host had fun music taste and kind friends. Audience members who stayed for the question and answer period after the show learned that much of the choreography came from rehearsal improvisation. The dancers’ investment in the ideology and expression of the workshop findings is clear.
Artistic director Jenny Schiff pointed out that viewers may see themselves in parts of the work. I found this to be true, as did my companion. This personal connection, along with the very real care and commitment on the part of the dancers, makes for a moving evening. The openness and self-exploratory willingness of the performers enables a similar effort on the part of the viewer.
A recurring movement in the show, a repeated leap forward then back, came to symbolize different things at different times. At one point, it spoke of defeat and frustration. Later, it grew into a question. Was I seeing a bird baffled by glass, beating itself against a window, or strength of spirit, irrepressible?
Sections of the work take us through struggles with the self. I saw tremendous support in the beautiful shared lifts, and self-imposed isolation in the cleverly lit “boxes” that trapped individual dancers. There were hints of the casual, thoughtless cruelty that happens too often in our relations with each other, as well as a magnificent striving to help a hurting person accept love.
Perhaps loneliness is, paradoxically, a shared state, in that we both go through it ourselves and contribute to its occurrence in the lives of others. It has been suggested that the cure for loneliness is self-love. Imagine sharing that instead.
The Schiff Dance Collective will be performing The Edge of Us again tonight, April 12th at 8pm, at the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder.
Jane E. Werle: With artwork and writing published by Bombay Gin, Hot Whiskey Press, Wyrd Tree Press, Summer Stock, and her own imprint, Thirsty Lizard Books, Jane is a passionate proponent of creativity, self-expression, and the pursuit of elusive and meaningful beauty. A poet, educator, and longtime nanny, she works and explores with kids, challenging young minds and safeguarding young hearts. Jane graduated with an MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, and has come up with no compelling reason since to move away from the lively Denver area and its admirably self-made cultural opportunities. Contact Jane with editing needs, parenting problems, and extravagant travel writing proposals.