On June 9, 2019 BRIAH Danse shared a raw, intimate preview of its upcoming (June 14-16, also at the Dairy Arts Center) performance of LEGENDS & LEGACIES …Unspoken Words. The audience was given a taste of the multitudinous elements that must be precisely arranged in order to create a successful production. A preview can enrich an audience’s experience of the performance through enlightened awareness of the behind-the-scenes process.
We audience members learned of minute yet impactful choreographic adjustments, costuming woes, and heartbreaking injuries. The house lights remained on the whole time, so we were left to wonder about the stage lighting and its potential impact, and how it might augment the carefully chosen music. Being fully visible to the dancers also put the audience in the sometimes uncomfortable position of being observed, spurring empathy for the performers. The fact that BRIAH’s work was moving even without costumes, lights and darkness does not disparage the importance of these elements. It kindles a sense of great anticipation for the gift of the finished show instead.
BRIAH showcases masterworks (with Antony B. Tudor Trust Repetiteurs Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner), iconic contemporaries (Guest Artist Cleo Parker Robinson, with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble), and new choreography (Domenico Luciano and, of course, the redoubtable Artistic Director Ms. Jayne Persch herself).
The dancers of BRIAH are delightfully individual in their talents while also satisfyingly cohesive as an ensemble. One can expect technical excellence and compassionate cooperation from this group, the products of intensive work and active communication. Watching the company in action provides a strong sense of growth, of becoming. Nothing is static or uniform.
It was intriguing to witness choreographer Domenico Luciano discuss nuances of particular movements with dancers before they executed his dynamic piece Attraversiamo, employing these corrections. Ms. Persch and the dancers co-created Penumbra, a hauntingly lovely meditation on contrast and connection. Speranza, danced by the whole company, is a striking, joyful, thoughtful piece. The alternating, interacting groups and couples provide a panoply of visual delights.
While choreography is generally inspired and almost every work of dance has a theme, whether obvious or not, dance (as Ms. Persch pointed out) doesn’t have to be about something in the sense that it must put forth and examine a particular topic. The focus, rather, is sitting with the encounter, perceiving it in your own way, and taking away from it what is meaningful to you. This is why I referred to the upcoming show as a gift.
As Ms. Persch states, BRIAH is excited to be part of the legacy of Antony B. Tudor “being passed down, in and through our dancers” by recreating select works under the guidance of the Tudor Trust. Sharon Wehner is especially evocative as Juliet in Romeo’s Farewell, whereas Leaves are Fading has a quiet, almost brooding power. Utilizing original costumes is part of the work of the Trust, and the brief look we received at the preview suggests they will be exquisite.
Cleo Parker Robinson and the CPRD Ensemble were not present for the June 9 preview, though Guest Performer Martez McKinzy (courtesy of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance) represented beautifully. Having seen members of the Ensemble perform in the past, I have no doubt their piece Mary Don’t You Weep for Me will be truly compelling. I hope to see BRIAH and CPRD together more in the future, but suggest you seize your chance to witness this production, and these dancers, while you can.
Jane Werle: As an infant Jane E. Werle, unable to protest, was removed from 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/editor and dance 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.