Despite a poor turnout for the opening night of their premiere, Santa Barbara’s newest dance company, Infinite Movement Ever Evolving (IMEE) hit the Lobero’s stage with passion and professionalism this past Friday night, giving the kind of polished performance worthy of a much bigger audience. Ex-State Street Ballet dancers Spencer Gavin Hering and Andrea Dawn Shelley were taking a risk in booking the 650-seat house for their first show, but the quality of dancing they presented Friday night went a long way toward justifying their choice.
Hering and Shelley performed in their own work alongside a stellar cast of dancers: Edgar Anido, Erica de la O, Adam Hundt, Paola Georgudis, Cristian Laverde Knig, and Lindsey McGill, all of whom flew to town especially for the production.
The show opened with “Son of Dust,” Shelley’s narrative ballet based on the story of the fallen angel, which featured her as evil temptress and Knig as the heavenly creature fallen from grace. The biblical readings presented in a creepy, electronically distorted voice were unnecessary, but the dancing was luscious.
Next came Hering’s “Dichotomy,” a slick, riveting duet for Georgudis and McGill in which the two women moved in canon, acting and reacting with precision timing, slithering and swiveling past one another against a soundscape of synthetic beeps and chirps. Their arms fluttered out from their shoulders like tassels, flapped bird-like, and folded into quaint gestures with the mechanical quality of store mannequins brought to life.
Shelley’s “Ivonice” took cancer as its subject, making the disease the invisible yet driving force in the struggle between two characters. In her subtly humorous quintet “Unbeknownst,” Shelley gave five dancers in tunics and coattails a chance to show off their stunning technique, as well as to play – vigorously enough that one dancer lost her tutu.
Post-intermission, the musicians of Bay Area-based Judgment Day took the stage for some hard-core cello and violin, setting the stage for Hering’s ambitious “Dr. Developmental 5.0,” in which a mad scientist of a dance company director attempted to program his robot-dancers, using a remote control to stop and start their action. “Dancers need space and time and the leeway to do what they choose with those things,” the amplified inner voice of the doctor mused before tethering his charges to an electrically charged ballet barre.
Hering’s “Again” showcased Georgudis and Anido in a duet full of smooth lifts and unexpected changes of direction, and the show closed with “Collaboration,” in which the entire cast returned to the stage alongside the musicians, concluding with an abrupt, comic finale.
With their debut production, IMEE proved their commitment to new choreography as well as their ability to bring some serious performing talent to town. Their next great challenge? Filling the house.