Design Elements Obscure Some of the Hardest Truths in ShaLeigh Dance Works' I Promise | Dance | Indy Week
Pin It

Design Elements Obscure Some of the Hardest Truths in ShaLeigh Dance Works' I Promise 

I didn't expect to see less of ShaLeigh Dance Works' I Promise on opening night than I had during a rehearsal the weekend before it opened. But Friday's premiere at The Fruit showed the degree to which technical elements can alter—and even obscure—an emerging work of art.

Alex Maness's unconventional lighting designs have enhanced shows throughout the region for a decade. His amber Fresnels and low footlights gave I Promise the golden glow of a tent show. But in places, the lighting—and the pastel-to-crème-colored costumes that gave ShaLeigh Comerford's dancers a designer-fashion gloss—significantly softened and occasionally erased the social struggles, coercion, and violence she said were at the heart of her striking choreography.

As it begins, the piece directly addresses imbalances in interpersonal and intercultural relationships. Megan Rindoks, a white woman, singlehandedly stares down a larger, racially diverse group, forcing them backward into a corner. But that crucial establishing dynamic was lost in shadows behind Dana Livermore and Anthony Nelson's mid-stage pas de deux. Also obscured was Livermore's distress at the start of a sequence set on a commuter train—so much so that her eventual collapse seemed to come out of nowhere.

Talented dancers struggled to recapture the authenticity and desperation I had witnessed in the rehearsal of a scene depicting endless falling through relationships. But it remained deeply disturbing when a solemn Majid Bastani appeared to be grimly writing, with both index fingers, on Rindoks's compliant visage as well as his own.

I have now seen two different faces of I Promise. In rehearsal, its nuanced social metaphors and raw emotional realism reminded me of Pina Bausch. In the performance, design elements smoothed over some of the starkest verities Comerford and her ensemble had discovered. Which is the true face of this work? Most likely, the answer lies somewhere between the two.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Dance



Twitter Activity

Comments

Murielle has taught me a lot of Argentine Tango dance. Her warm manner has made me like her a lot. …

by Bill Murray Dances on From Intergenerational Traumas of Race and Gender, Murielle Elizéon Extracts Universal Catharsis in Brown (Dance)

It's good to see the Independent covering the Carolina Ballet, but this review seems mostly concerned with seeming clever, and …

by Rob Tiller on Carolina Ballet opens season with Balanchine program (Dance)

Most Recent Comments

Murielle has taught me a lot of Argentine Tango dance. Her warm manner has made me like her a lot. …

by Bill Murray Dances on From Intergenerational Traumas of Race and Gender, Murielle Elizéon Extracts Universal Catharsis in Brown (Dance)

It's good to see the Independent covering the Carolina Ballet, but this review seems mostly concerned with seeming clever, and …

by Rob Tiller on Carolina Ballet opens season with Balanchine program (Dance)

"What Balanchine needs is someone to do for him what he did for his great forebear Petipa: clear out the …

by Denise Cerniglia on Carolina Ballet opens season with Balanchine program (Dance)

Wow, I have to say that the hip-hop dance was my favorite of the evening by far. I have attended …

by RogerTheGeek on Stylistic collisions with good and bad results at Carolina Ballet (Dance)

Readers: As always, we had a lot more to say about the ADF than we could ever hope to fit …

by Byron Woods, Indy Contributing Editor, Live Arts on The best and not-best of ADF 2011 (Dance)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation