Peer into the trials and tribulations of love, cohabitation, and relationships that is Niche. This whimsical journey draws in audiences of all kinds whether your bag is music, visual art, dance, or theater. From the very beginning we are invited to take in the abstract and watch its’ meaning unfold, a delightful entrance into watching a modern dance concert. The opening duet joyfully danced by Leslie Noble and Sean Miller carves through the space with angular bound movement and free flowing gesture. We are then introduced to three energetic house spirits, danced by Emily Crews, Carrie Monger, and Amy Scaringe, narrating throughout and zipping over, under, and across the stage.
The costumes fit the mood of each section, showing off the dancers strength and confidence, without distracting from the performance. Costume changes mark each section: the early years, the settled in, and the shapeshift. Each section develops it’s own movement vocabulary that is manipulated through repetition, use of different facings and spatial patterns. There are times to dig into the narrative and times to sit back and enjoy well crafted and executed choreography.
Lighting Designer Elizabeth Coco captures the work’s playful mood painting the space with turquoise, magenta, and gorgeous shadows. The sensual guitar music, played by Cristian Perez is a constant character in the work, sometimes driving the movement, and sometimes letting the dance take the lead.
The carefully selected, timed, and specific text urges us to judge the homebody and worry about what other people think. The choreography of the text sequenced as seamlessly as did the movement. Since the text was so charming, I noticed myself anticipating the next line and who was going to speak next. As the word “happy” lingered in my ear, the mood changed and the movement grew more weighted – physically and emotionally. Gravity took over giving a fully released, connected, and fluid quality to the dancing.
The trust and ensemble awareness among the dancers shines through in their partnering and moments of unison. Hats off to Jane Franklin and her company for their grace, technicism, and vulnerability. They remind us to look deeply into our hearts, see the world around us, seek out what we want, and stake out what we hold dear.
Niche plays through July 26, 2015 at Dance Place, Cafritz Foundation Theater – 3225 8th Street NE, in Washington, DC. For information and to purchase tickets, visit the production’s Capital Fringe page.
Read the preview on DCMetroTheaterArts.