Despondence emerges in choreographic language


The culture is in upheaval; most everyone admits and discusses it. Artists, of course, feel it acutely — as do we all. It’s a conversation that best takes place in communities. One place is with an audience, at a theater.

But how to translate these profound feelings, which seem so contingent on verbiage, into a non-verbal art? I’m seeing trends as leading choreographers confront the social and political strife. And they are incorporating a physical language that expresses extreme hopelessness.

I was struck by this mood in the unusual portrait of choreographer Kyle Abraham, above. Abraham is about to premiere a new work, Dearest Home, described as an interactive dance work focused on loving and longing and loss. The work interweaves movement, in its most vulnerable or intimate state, with cross-cultural conversation and community action.

Laura Peterson, based in Brooklyn, has entitled her upcoming work at Judson Memorial Church, “Failure,” as a soul-baring admission reflected in the depressing posture of her performance poster.

FAILURE is a contemporary dance and visual installation that probes the national consciousness in 2017.

This is a dance about the overwhelming pressure to win. For this work, Peterson queries: What is failure, and how do we deal with it, as individuals, and as communities?

FAILURE also positions itself as “a protest against the elevation of materialism and thoughtless accumulation of wealth at any cost. A protest against the gold-plated, disastrous celebration of exploitation, the cultivation of hatred and fear and ignorance.”

It’s a lot to take on.

kyle abraham photo credit = @tcwills

Failure | Laura Peterson Choreography | Judson Memorial Church | June 29 – July 1
Dearest Home | Abraham in Motion | The Kitchen, NYC | June 28 – July 2

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