MOVEIUS Contemporary Ballet, a DC-based company founded in 2010, presents #albatross in this summer’s Capital Fringe Festival, with a program of three works. The decision to show three works, as opposed to packing the concert to the brim with a handful of smaller works, really allowed the dancers of this company to sparkle and shine in a way that a denser program would not allow. With a program consisting of Olivia Sabee and Danny Schwartz’s The Lorelei, the Albatross, and the Pine Tree, Constantine Baecher’s Viduity, and Melissa Lineburg, Carrie Denyer, and Shelley Siller’s MOVEIUS is… (128), MOVEIUS takes its audiences on a journey from abstract to present day-to-day life.
Sabee and Schwartz’s The Lorelei, the Albatross, and the Pine Tree is a complex, and multilayered piece of contemporary ballet. With a cast consisting of Rachael Bade, Dustin Kimball, Melissa Lineburg, Diana Movius, Catherine Roth, Shelley Siller, and Tyrone Walker, Sabee and Schwartz set dancer Rachael Bade as a featured dancer, with the rest of the dancers piled on top of one another in a clump. The piece exists in a series of movement ideas, with permutations of dancers performing in solos, pas de deux, pas de trois, etc. Setting Bade as a soloist of sorts in this work was an excellent decision, as she attacks the choreography in this work with an athletic energy that is almost non-existent in the rest of the cast. Themed movement ebbs and flows in this work, namely lunges, slides across the stage, and tight and fast turns, to name a few. While I do not think I understood the piece, I found it interesting to see the various pairings of the dancers exist onstage with one another. My difficulties with the piece stem from the fact that the dynamics in the lighting and sound design never match in the dancers’ performances. While I agree with Sabee and Schwartz’s inclination to include dynamic peaks to create an arc for the work, the dancers’ dynamics never changed to mirror the moments of frenetic lighting and sound. The piece seems to have improvised moments, and I would say that with more choreographic tweaking and a little more rehearsal, this piece could really become something fabulous.
Constantine Baecher’s Viduity, featuring Carrie Denyer, Melissa Lineburg, Diana Movius, and Shelley Siller, bridges the gap from abstract to literal. The piece begins with the four women standing downstage, facing upstage in black leotards of differing sleeve lengths and long black skirts. Everything about this piece works in harmony to depict a tale of loss and mourning. The black skirts live a life of their own, as the dancers perform intricate movements in almost perfect unison. As the piece builds, the dancers gracefully exit, and enter without their skirts. In this section of movement, Melissa Lineburg performs an absolutely exquisite solo. Lineburg translates Baecher’s choreography with pristine nuance and stellar performance quality. Her attention to detail with the sequence of movement, the efficiency of the effort she gives each movement, and the clarity in her dynamics make her irresistible. This solo punctuates the work, and creates a beautiful dynamic arc, as the rest of the cast enter in the long, black skirts as Lineburg’s solo draws to a close. The piece ends in similar almost perfect unison, bookending the Lineburg’s dynamically arresting solo, and creating a return to the status quo of the beginning.
The last piece in the program, MOVEIUS is… (128), is a collaboratively choreographed piece of vignettes, choreographed by Melissa Lineburg, Carrie Denyer, Shelley Siller, is a rather poignant look at the purpose of social media in our everyday lives. This piece’s strength is its ability to truly capture the joy each dancer feels while performing. The cast of the work, Carrie Denyer, Erin Fitzgerald, Melissa Lineburg, Catherine Roth, and Shelley Siller, bring strength, elegance, and unbridled joy to this work, making it a highlight of the evening. The piece begins with an exquisitely danced solo for Erin Fitzgerald, with projections of a text conversation between a couple at an impasse. Fitzgerald gives herself over to the movement wholly, and her performance transcends the choreography. She displays a supple strength that is intoxicating, and this carries through to the other vignettes in which she performs with the rest of the cast. The journey of the vignettes explores the uses of social media in our lives, from tough emotional moments we can’t bear to experience face to face with someone in our lives, to the moments we cannot put our phones down, and all the in between. Carrie Denyer’s projections offer an additional entry point into the work, and while they are at times a bit literal for my tastes, they do help color the mood of the vignettes. The structural aspects of the sections, the use of smart gestures, and the overall accessibility of the subject matter make this piece perfect to close the show. The audience ends up leaving thinking about the subject matter, but doesn’t feel bogged down with anything too emotionally heavy.
#albatross is yet another strong showing by the wonderfully inventive and incredibly talented dancers and choreographers of MOVEIUS Contemporary Ballet. This company fills the contemporary ballet void in the DC/MD/VA area, and is a home for the working professional-level contemporary ballet dancer. #albatross has something for everyone, from the dance lovers to the Dancing with the Stars/So You Think You Can Dance fans in your life.
#albatross is playing through July 25, 2014, at Atlas Performing Arts Center’s Lang Theatre – 1333 H Street, NE, in Washington, DC. For more information, and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe Page.