Driving Forces

Over the course of Rear View Mirror, a dance performance the subtitle of which states that “objects may be closer than they appear,” the onstage musicians gradually move closer to the dancers, indicating a special level of rapport. When the musicians join the dancers on stage, it creates a partnership where they interact, play, and spur each other along. This Iridian Arts presentation is a collaboration between the Robin Cox Ensemble and Stephanie Nugent’s Nugent Dance.

In “Faster Than That” the musicians changed tempo, and the dancers responded. In Nugent’s characteristic choreography, Marcos Duran, Victor Fung, Blake Hennessy-York, Brittani Karhoff, Anisabel Perez, and Cherise Richards deftly explored their surroundings, flaring fingers and toes. The music was punctuated by moments of silence that were filled with the dancers’ breath.

Some pieces featured just the musicians, in music that resembled dance. Cellist Carter Dewberry and clarinetist Marty Walker played together on “Points of Balance, movt. 1,” and Walker played between Dewberry’s notes, dancing with a grin at the end. In “Square Feet,” hand drummer Erik Leckrone improvised around the other musicians’ syncopated rhythms.

Dancers Blake Hennessy-York and Sarah Pon explored the edges of each others’ bodies in “Bathers.” They draped and moved in images that flowed like water pouring across each other, finally being pushed by the ensemble’s drums into a dynamic ending pose, with arms waving. Nugent’s choreography often features dynamic endings that create open-ended transitions between one moment and the next.

Nugent danced “Circa One” alone. She performed this piece last fall in her solo show, but here, sandwiched between group performances, “Circa” took on new meaning. The invisible partner of space could almost be seen as Nugent’s body wrapped itself around the air in explosive leaps.

The evening ended fittingly with “Drive,” a humorous play between dancers and audience, driven by the ensemble. Elizabeth Schwyzer, Heather Carney, Janna Diamond, and Nicole Helton marked through their paces, looked for center stage, and posed for the audience. Because, after all, as Nugent said, what drives dancers is performing. And perform they all did, with dynamic style and drive.

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