Wondering what to expect from this Wonderbound performance? Expect enthusiastic applause. Expect to witness powerful artists flexing their various crafts and loving it. Expect a multi-generational audience ready to participate in the humor and joy the company brings to the stage. Love is vibrant and sensual, fun and wry. Pick your poison: Exceptional music, charged dancing, provocative poetry; all are created fresh and live before your eyes, ears, and mind. Wonderbound’s collaborative emphasis is beautifully realized here.
When the Power Goes Out, the first of three pieces that comprise Love, utilizes Michael J. Henry’s poetic work alongside Heidi Leathwood’s piano artistry. Garrett Ammon’s choreography (also For the Love of Pete) is thoughtful and vigorous, the sexual element clear and energetic. Henry’s balanced words provide an entry into the dancers’ movements. Should the language of dance be unfamiliar to you, or the idea of conceptual dance foreign, you may especially appreciate this vocal aspect.
“Relationships” is one understanding of the dominant theme. It’s more than that, though. There is examination of the development of the self in response to another, and the dissolution of self through loss, familiarity, and commitment. The gradual accumulation of furnishings onstage mirrors the collection of experiences and memories that make up a person. Choices, preferences, compromises, and acceptances describe a life.
How does one produce costumes that are striking but not overwhelming, sumptuous but wearable (for serious movement!), and inform the choreography? I don’t know. Ask Intimate Letters (also When the Lights Go Out and For the Love of Pete) designer Rachael Kras. While immaculately finished, the general sense is of a state of undress, which suggests vulnerability. This suits the close and private nature of the piece. That is, private within oneself as well as private between two people.
The balletic baseline of Sarah Tallman’s choreography is apparent, but this is not the staid or rigid traditional ballet you may have previously experienced. The weightless strength and reach for a long, appealing line are present, but it’s not preciously perfect. Even when in unison, the dancers are different. Each one’s line, curve and bearing speaks of independence.
While considering each as unique, I also had the impression of several people portraying varying aspects of one being in flux. I could see the group as one self-aware person feeling intensely and fluctuating between a kind of agony, emotional exhaustion, self-reassurance, and clear purpose. Also perceptible were different people separately experiencing a common struggle. Confluence String Quartet (also For the Love of Pete) brings its stirring focus to bear, carrying the movements through their heights and depths.
If I had to pick one moment of the whole evening, it would be a particular lift near the end of this piece. On the floor amidst the discarded letters/fallen leaves– an embrace bittersweet as though presaging an ending– he lies on his back with her above him. They look at each other, he lifts, her body is perfectly parallel to his and a twinge of yearning is mine.
Finisher For the Love of Pete is a cheeky celebration, a Bacchanalian Midsummer Night’s Dream that somehow escapes salaciousness and lands solidly in sweet. It’s straight-up fun. It’s also an excellent chance to enjoy brief solos from the accomplished, unapologetic individuals of this company. The climax is large and lovely; you’ll be glad you came.
Jane Evelyn 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. Email Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org