The esteemed Hannah Kahn Dance Company performed Limb Song and Other Dances on May 6th and 7th, 2016, at the Dairy Arts Center in Boulder, CO. These were company dancer Theresa Anton’s last performances and her artistry, technical proficiency, and gorgeous long lines will be missed by fellow members and audiences alike. Artistic Director Hannah Kahn chose to speak at two points during the evening, granting insight into her choreographic process as well as how she finds and expresses meaning in movement and music. It was interesting to learn that Kahn does not exactly set out to communicate a specific interpretation through her choreography, as might be expected. Rather, she creates movements that (for her) express or evoke what the music makes her feel.
The paper program also featured notes from Kahn on each piece and the music used. While those familiar with the movement arts may not need to refer to the additional information provided in order to enjoy the performance, a friend of mine with no experience in the dance and art worlds deeply appreciates such guidance and the resultant entry to the work. Too many people still find dance and other performance art relatively inaccessible, and it appears Kahn is one of the leaders in the effort to change that (fellow Denver companies Wonderbound and DAMAGEDANCE create innovative programming and hold open rehearsals for the same reason).
Of the evening’s seven pieces, three were from 2015, one from 2006, two from the 1990s, and one from 1978 (Limb Song, the featured work). I have seen previous performances of the HKDC, and was intrigued by a shift in my perception of the company on this occasion. As before, I was impressed by the commitment and ability of the dancers. Newly, I was struck by the character and evolution of Kahn’s choreography and apparent sensibility. I had not previously realized how potentially avant-garde it is.
What remains constant in my view is a sense of what might be called vivacity or, perhaps, an embracing of life. What has changed, at least for me, is an awareness of regularly defied expectations. The dancers of the company (appropriately!) embody this. While all are skilled, it is clear that they are skilled differently. Instead of executing identical movements, each dancer translates the choreography through his or her own body shape, carriage, and intention. The differences are fascinating, and I’m so grateful to see this real aspect of the human experience directly reflected in well-done art.
Near the end of the evening, my writing hand slowed as I reached a still place in my observation. I was happy to see more, but I also felt a kind of completion. Sometimes it is completely enough to be a part of (create, enact, or in this case, watch) something beautiful. Nature can be an excellent source of beauty but, as a person, it can be especially impactful to experience person-powered beauty. My companion and I were lucky enough to witness just such an occurrence, thanks to Hannah Kahn Dance Company.
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.