In a world in which sexual assault and violence against women is acutely and deservedly under the microscope thanks to the “Me Too” movement, media attention, and public education, the arts have also played a critical role in bringing attention to this pressing issue. As they have done in the past and since they are a “contemporary” dance company, Dance Kaleidoscope, once again, demonstrated they are in the vanguard of focusing attention on social problems that plague our society. Such was the case of “Women Sublime,” its most recent concert, which I attended Sunday at Indiana Repertory Theatre’s OneAmerica Stage.
The three pieces included in the program were all choreographed by women. They included the world premiere of “Between a Kiss and a Sigh,” with choreography by Cynthia Pratt, a reprise of “State of Grace” by Mariel Greenlee and “Aftermath,” also a world premiere by Kiesha Lalama.
Tinged with cheeky, dark humor, Pratt’s commentary on the ongoing battle of the sexes, “Between a Kiss and a Sigh” portrayed the desire for true love among couples that is often thwarted by fears of commitment, feelings of vulnerability and struggles for power. The titles of the Pratt’s work, as listed in the printed program, provide a clue of what the piece portrayed. They included “The Hunt,” “The Avoidance,” “The Exchange,” “The Codependents” and “And Yet.” Among the most unique, if not the most humorous choreography I have ever seen was that of “The Exchange,” which involved men using fishing poles with bouquets of roses attached to attract women.
It just so happened the Sunday matinee I attended was literally Greenlee’s very last performance prior to her retirement, ending 14 seasons with DK. So what better tribute to her than a revival of her “State of Grace” piece, which was presented at the 2015 IndyFringe Theatre Festival, inspired by a public argument between a couple Greenlee once happened to witness. Depicting hostility that can get out of hand, except for self-restraint on the part of those experiencing heated conflict, the piece was forceful.
“Aftermath,” is based on real stories of those victimized by sexual harassment and/or assault. In her disturbing piece Lalama, chillingly illustrated he toxic physical and emotional dynamics between victims and their perpetrators. Notable in the piece was Lalama’s choice of music to underscore the victimizer’s behavior. Songs included featured artists such as Michael Bublé, Rufus Wainwright and Shannon & Keast.
The fact that Greenlee’s swan song performance was widely heralded and promoted by DK contributed to the great anticipation that hung in the air at the concert. When she finally appeared in a cameo in Lalama’s piece, I had flashbacks to her countless performances I have covered and enjoyed during her years with DK. Always distinctive for her uncommon grace, poise, beauty, musicality and mastery of fine technique, Greenlee will be missed. Now, however, her legacy will be enriched through the teaching and choreography that will now preoccupy her time and benefit new generations of dancers who will, hopefully, emulate her artistry.
For tickets information about Dance Kaleidoscope’s upcoming events, visit dancekal.org.