2019 Capital Fringe Review: ‘This Place of Ours’

When done well, dance has a unique ability to tell a compelling narrative through themes that audience members can then adapt to their own perspectives and stories. Moving Body Dance Company has achieved this in spades. This Place of Ours is an exploration of separation and connectivity in a dystopia where circumstance brews skepticism, fear, and polarization. This dance investigates how our perceived differences can either interfere with understanding or bring us closer together. 

Choreographed by Erin Bailey and performed by Carol Anne Cooley, Tierra Jacobs, Brailey Johnson, Petra Jaye Morgan, Amber Debnam Odom, and Ashlee Daniel Taylor, This Place of Ours is a gritty, dark, disturbing and utterly remarkable dance which will keep you on the edge of your seat. Bailey and her team possess an exquisite understanding of how to use technical elements to bring their primary art form to life. 

The score was absolute perfection. It set the exact right ambiance while never pulling focus from the dancers. Even more impressive is that no single person wrote the score, once again a tribute to Bailey’s ability to combine disparate parts into a cohesive whole—one of the very themes of the performance. Original scores were by Chris Johnson, Scott Cazan, Ólafur Arnalds, and John Osburn and the company also used music by Sarah Jaffe. This was also a masterclass in lighting. There was no specific credit in the program, but Bailey and her team showcased how you can use minimal lighting to maximum effect. 

But the true credit goes to the company. Every woman on that stage was a force. No spoken word was used, but the faces and bodies of these performers told us everything. They conveyed visceral, fierce, haunting emotion that often left me heart-pounding, breathless. Their technique was strong, exact, and stunning. Every movement was done with purpose and deliberation, whether the group was beating someone into conformity or changing into another apt costume. Even the fight choreography was flawless. 

For me, Bailey and the company reminded me that an idea can give hope, but survival is still a battle. Women adapt and give and give, even when on the inside they are screaming. This battle is exhausting, and when we are divided, we are defeated. But together, we are strength. Together, we are power.  

I have seen a lot of Fringe this year, and this is the best I’ve seen so far. If you think you don’t like dance, see this. If you love dance, see this. No matter what you like, This Place of Ours belongs at the top of your list. 

Running Time: 60 minutes with no intermission.

This Place of Ours, by Moving Body Dance Company, plays through July 17, 2019, at Saint Matthew’s Lutheran Church, 222 M Street SW, Washington, DC. For tickets, call 866-811-4111 or go online.

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