The title Emerge, I assume, is a way to alert the audience that the choreographers on this concert are emerging into the role of choreographer. That is a fair and useful distinction to make — after all it takes time, focus, and practice to become a professional performer. But it is no less true that it takes time, focus, and practice to become a professional choreographer. I would agree with this title in my experience with this concert. With some small exceptions, my experience was one of witnessing a collection of largely lovely, very well-danced, and ultimately experienced-in-the-moment works that won’t stay with me for long but were mostly enjoyed in the moment.
This sense of emerging was illustrated in the interviews with the choreographers that were used as introductions for their pieces. The interviews were stacked with buzzwords like: community, relationship, connection, graciousness, problem-solving, gratitude, openness, and creative process. These are great words that I appreciate as a dance artist as they reflect some of the things that I also find important in my work. However, they don’t really tell me anything specific about the piece I am about to see, and can also be used as a way to hide the fact that a choreographer is not really able to identify the intent of a work. As emerging choreographers, this is understandable. Dancers often correctly work from a point of physical intuition, but it is also important to articulate what you personally bring to a work. I wish that someone had taken time to coach these emerging choreographers more (or perhaps change the questions that were being asked) so that some specificity could be reached.
Overall this concert pleasantly washed over you and then dissipated quickly. Many pieces had similar fluidity, dynamics, emotional tone, costuming, and music. The brightest spots occurred when they shifted from these similarities. Rebecca Aneloski’s piece “Odes” had some sparkling complexity and personal oddities. Daniel Do’s dancing, in a work by Jaclyn Brown, had complicated pelvic shifting and foot work that he performed with ease and exactness. Lauren Curley’s solo communicated a sense of collaboration and connection with the live musician, Nate Anderson, that was very satisfying to witness. Nicholas Cendese’s suite of works, Another Day in Quarantine, did have a significant shift in tone and texture that I think speaks to Cendese’s personal artistry. Even though beyond the first section I was not certain how the works really connected specifically with quarantine experiences, I appreciated the variety and light-heartedness that it brought to the concert.
Beyond the idea of emerging as choreographers, we all are emerging (or at least hoping to emerge), from a time period of decreased social engagement and heightened social turmoil that has left many of us voluntarily pulling away from putting ourselves out into the world. Many of us are seeing our communities differently and thus our places and voices in our communities have shifted. I have felt this as an artist, and it causes a bit of cautiousness in coming out of this backspace, wanting to be gentle with others, being timid about what I am sharing with the world, and even wondering if I should be putting anything out into the world right now. I saw gentleness and timidness in this concert, but also in so much dance I have seen recently on a national and even international level (the one nice thing about live-streaming). It is hard to emerge for all of us. I do look forward to a time when we will emerge with more ferocity and dynamics, as we find our footing and claim the goodness and importance of change reflected in the work that we create.
This article is published in collaboration with loveDANCEmore.org.
Kate Monson can be found teaching at BYU and presenting her own choreographic work, specifically through the On Site Mobile Dance Series, a loveDANCEmore program she created alongside Kori Wakamatsu.