An Intimate Evening of Dance Theater

Presented by Susan Shaberman. At the Contemporary Arts Forum, Saturday, June 30.

Intimate was the word used to describe the evening’s program of performances by dancers Aida Amirkhanian, Susan Shaberman, Diana Cummins, and Narineh Ghazarians, and musician Nicole McKenzie. And intimate it was, even though the group attending the dance theater installation at the Contemporary Arts Forum was larger than the organizers expected; extra folding chairs had to be brought out to accommodate everyone. Even with enough chairs, the performances were worth standing up for-particularly since standing provided the right vantage point to see the four dancers make full use of the space: sometimes standing, sometimes seated, and sometimes partnering with the floor.

The selection of short dances choreographed by Amirkhanian, Shaberman, and Ghazarians began and ended with pieces that were flirtatious and coquettish, particularly when Amirkhanian and Shaberman shared the stage. In between these playful frames, the emotions expressed ranged from pain and pathos to triumph, joy, and love. The dancers themselves were the most enjoyable element of the evening, particularly Amirkhanian and Shaberman. Their facial expressions and graceful control of their bodies proved that as dancers hone their craft during decades of practice and performances, they reveal through movement deeper and deeper layers of meaning.

Aida Amirkhanian in her solo, "Persevere."
Paul Wellman

Amirkhanian partnered Ghazarians in “Red Sun,” a dance tinged with red, both in costume selection and in the tone and feeling throughout the piece. The contrast of the two bodies spinning was energetic, light, and inspiring. In “Persevere,” Amirkhanian danced alone. The piece was her own choreography; set to Bach, it included moments of imploring, writhing on the earth, and an ending where her final gesture-her arms outstretched and triumphant-suggested hope.

When Shaberman danced “Vidit Suum,” also choreographed by Amirkhanian, her eyes, smile, and facial expressions danced as well, ranging from the pained to the joyous, her features softening as her gestures expanded. In “Diana’s Waltz,” Diana Cummins inhabited Amirkhanian’s choreography with poignant sensuality and grace. In each part of the evening, Nicole McKenzie danced with her bow, playing dance-inspired pieces by Piazzolla and Josef Gazsi.

In the evening’s final piece, “You Go to My Head,” Amirkhanian winked suggestively at the audience before she and Shaberman began coaxing audience members to partner with them and with each other, blurring the barrier between audience and performer-a fitting finale to an intimate evening.

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