A single helix of bulbous green nodules descends from the ceiling downstage right, and a giant silver disk hangs upstage, pockmarked like the surface of the moon. Into this strange landscape walks a young man in a white tuxedo, his feet bare, his thick, curly hair forming a nimbus around his head. He launches into a dramatic monologue about past mistakes, wandering the stage as he speaks and punctuating his phrases with twitching gestures.
So begins “4ward & 4gotten,” the opening number in an evening-length program of dance, film, spoken word, and live music from Infinite Movement Ever Evolving (iMEE). Last in Santa Barbara for their premiere one year ago, the young company of dancers drawn from across the nation was back last weekend with new works by artistic directors Spencer Gavin Hering and Andrea Dawn Shelley. The aims of iMEE are to transcend the boundaries between art forms through artistic collaboration, a commitment made evident in this show by the role of actor and musician Graham Patzner. Whether reciting poetry, creating looped scores on the electric violin, or simply standing on stage as the dancers moved around him, Patzner provided the through-line to a varied program.
From the moment four dancers swept onstage for a fiercely articulated movement sequence to the virtuoso solos that marked the evening’s closing number “Conglomerate,” iMEE’s high-octane performers displayed exquisite skill. Lindsey McGill threw off triple pirouettes with enviable nonchalance; Shelley’s battements lingered above her head before floating back to earth.
The company’s movement vocabulary is characterized by busy, frenetic gestures and ballet-driven technique, and every dancer is up to the task. Though pieces like Shelley’s “Acquiescence” and “Frozen Angels” are intended as dramatic narratives, the real drama was in the sheer physical prowess of the performance. Male dancers Cristian Laverde Koenig and Mikhael Plain shared an exciting duet of swinging weight shifts and achingly graceful extensions; Hering and Shelley revisited last year’s “Ivonice,” set to a fast-paced score by Philip Glass.
This program also included work by guest choreographer Jerry Opdenaker, whose “La Follias’ Folie” brought to life the music of Antonio Vivaldi. In knee-length velvet pantaloons and black corsets, the dancers bounded through themes and variations, bouncing and bobbing like sprightly court jesters, their animated expressions conveying pure enjoyment.
As their name suggests, iMEE’s artistic vision is still evolving, but with dancers of this caliber, they’re on the right track. If you missed this show, you’ve got another chance to catch them back at the Lobero July 9 and 10.