The lights darkened, fog swirled in and the audience stared in silence. A superhero in bright pink garb swung from a red trapeze, elegantly contorting her body.
And so commenced the first of five performances presented by the Moving Current Dance Collective Saturday night in Theater II. Artistic and accessible, the contemporary dance program could be enjoyed even by those unfamiliar with the expressive medium.
The contemporary style steps away from classical ballet. The performers dance without shoes and the choreography follows no rules. Grand sets and extravagant costumes are not necessary to exaggerate the meaning behind the performances. Rather, the dancers and choreographers evoke emotion through the intricacy of their dancing.
Choreographed by artistic directors Cynthia Hennessy and Erin Cardinal, the performance started off with Herillian. In a foggy setting bathed in red light, four superheroes went to battle. The combatants were controlled by a villain with an obsession for stealing hearts, while a quintessential damsel in distress hovered in the background, tightly bound by rope. At the end of the piece, the damsel was set free and danced alone, angelically.
Laced with a sense of humor, the performance was packed with graceful fight sequences. Composer Devin Rice created a compelling score using a mixture of discordant piano melodies juxtaposed with a rock theme, tinged with swelling action hero undertones.
Little Let Down followed and was decidedly less showy but no less expressive. A whimsical Joanna Newsom song, “Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie,” played softly as dancer and choreographer Jennifer Nugent took the stage. Dressed in a plain red top and a gray knee-length skirt, she moved with freedom and control. The music faded out and Nugent’s heavy breathing became the only discernable sound on stage. As the lights dimmed, she finished her dance in a cross-legged pose, hunched on the floor as if a weight rested on her shoulders.
The moving Relatively Speaking featured dancers Erin Cardinal, Shana Perkins and Courtney Smith, who acted as siblings. The piece guided the audience through the trials and tribulations of three sisters and featured a melancholy violin and piano duet by Arvo Part. The blue light that drenched the stage added a soft quality to the dance and mirrored the light blue and black costumes. The piece perfectly pegged the dynamic of sisterhood, including the support and love that resulted in the unity of the dancers.
The last two pieces were the most abstract. Forward Thinking, beautifully choreographed by Paul Matteson, featured four dancers – three women and a man – all dressed in costumes that feigned casual clothing. Music by Michael Wall played, asking, “What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?” The four dancers appeared to be living in an idyllic world where people, no matter their differences, help each other up when they fall and support each other. Unity and friendship were the clear themes of the performance.
The night ended with Fare Well, choreographed and performed by Jennifer Nugent and Paul Matteson, who were dressed simply in black. The pair enters – and later exits – by crawling on all fours, which helped portray the most primal, animalistic qualities in a relationship. The pair supported and lifted one another and butted heads – literally butting their heads and chests lightly against each other – before the piece dissolved into a modern dance version of a tango. Music reminiscent of a jungle beat, composed by Edmund Mooney, enhanced the passionate and primitive theme delivered by the dancers.
Moving Current put on a show that required viewers to open their minds and lose themselves in the stories and emotions that the dancers conveyed.