When I arrived, the lobby outside the Irey Theatre on CU’s Boulder Campus was buzzing with excitement and people. It took some finesse just to move around, pick up my tickets, and locate my guest for the afternoon show. It was my first Interweave Dance Theater (IDT) performance, and I was quickly picking up on the reputation, professionalism, and national importance of the Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop (BJDW). Walking into the crowded theatre revealed that each audience seat had a card with a word on it. Mine was “veracity.”
Moved Beyond Words was made up of 14 individual dance pieces (12 of which were premieres), some including the entire company ensemble, others with only one or two dancers, and everything in between. Each of the 14 numbers was inspired by a piece of text, whether a poem, a song, a line from a play, or a passage from a literary, philosophical, or spiritual text. Thus the words on the seats. The inspiring authors ranged from Rumi, Hafiz, and Buddha, all the way to R Buckminster Fuller, e.e. cummings, and Kurt Cobain.
The afternoon was not unlike sitting down with a stellar collection of short stories. And I mean one of those anthologies with some of the best writers—those who know how to capture the important bits of life on every page. A book in which every story is unique, yet somehow connected—perhaps they all share a character, or take place in the same apartment building, community, or city. And somehow, though you can’t quite put your finger on it, every story touches on a core experience of humanity.
The dancing and choreography were strong, expressive, committed, and just bursting with talent and vision. The show boasted 14 individual choreographers, though it was not quite one per number. A handful of the pieces used projected backdrops, one piece was particularly conceptual, with the dancers speaking as much as dancing, and every piece used the moving body as language, communication, expression, and narration. The sweetest number of the show had mothers dancing with daughters, showcasing that bond, maternal support, and the path to independence for both daughter and mother.
Every dancer in the show was spectacular. While some stood out more than others, the training, technique, practice and joy each of them clearly brought to the stage, and every number they were in, made this a most amazing show. While it was definitely jazz dancing, the influence of dance theatre and contemporary dance was also evident. The choreography had the dancers covering the entire stage, often in rounds of steps, creating ripples of synchronized dancing bodies, or traveling from one corner to the other as if the stage was an entire world.
Some of the pieces, like “An Unrequited Wrong,” choreographed by Allison Blakeney & Brittney Kirkpatrick and “In Breath,” by Jenny Schiff were more narrative and almost story like. Others, like “First Dance” by Mimi Ferrie and “Siren-ity” choreographed by Lara Branen (BJDW’s founder), were more emotional and open, communicating waves of feeling as the group of dancers moved together. My favorite piece of the show was the final one, “The Hero’s Journey,” modeled after the archetypal adventure of transformation and growth that comes from right action in the midst of a crisis. The choreography (Kari Herman) and dancing (Brittany Maxwell Hopkins danced the Hero) were sublime. The support and community within the company was so evident throughout this piece. I had chills up my arms by the end of it.
Although it is sad that, as the program for the show says, “Moved Beyond Words will never be seen it its entirety again,” I have no doubt many of these pieces will be performed for further audiences. I am overjoyed at such a phenomenal introduction, both to IDT and BJDW. I can’t wait until next summer!
Soma Feldmar: Soma Feldmar received her MFA from Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School, and is now working on her PhD in English from SUNY Buffalo, with a focus on poetics. Other, her first book of poetry, was published in 2009 from Capilano University Editions (CUE Books). Soma’s work has also appeared in various online and print journals. Her doctoral dissertation is on poet Robin Blaser and how his work brings the poetic and the ethical together, remaining open to the other and the unknown. Originally from Vancouver, BC, Soma recently relocated to Denver, CO, after five and half years in Buffalo, NY. Overjoyed to be back in Colorado, she has started her own business, Seamoon Editing Services and joined the writing team of Presenting Denver. As a former ballet, jazz, and modern dance student, Soma looks forward to more opportunities to combine her love of dance and her love of writing.