Choreography and Direction by Suzanne Beahrs
Dance, Off Off Broadway
Ended run 3.29.14
St. Mark's Church, 131 East 10th Street
by Jane Sato on 4.2.14
Suzanne Beahrs Dance presents AMID. Photo by Christopher Duggan.
BOTTOM LINE: NYU grad Suzanne Beahrs brings great dancers together for a feel good evening at St. Mark's Church.
"AMID is a celebration of the exquisite power in our broken, impermanent selves." Suzanne Beahrs and her four dancers create an intimate, magical space where they support and gesture to each other to a beautiful, feel-good soundtrack. The sounds of waves, rain, Bach, Scarlatti, Keith Jarrett, and Caetano Veloso sooth especially as light streams through the stained glass windows of the St. Marks Church.
In AMID, we are introduced to Beahrs' tomboy-like sensibility to beauty as she dances a solo to crashing waves on the shore. Her group choreography is still relatively formulaic in a pleasant way. The dancers, all versed in her movement language, have great control over the quality of their movement, and this is almost as important as the choreography itself. They become fluid and then staccato within seconds and the sounds of their breath echo throughout the church. They have swooping weight changes, grounded and syncopated footwork and a delicate recurring gesture of stroking the arm. The four women all physically lift, support, and hug, each other, as if there is no place they would rather have been than in that moment.
St. Mark’s Church is an open sacred space with no wings or backstage area. The depth of the space allow solos to happen at the back and for the dancer in perspective to become a focal point. Suzanne and her dancers watch from the sides when they aren’t dancing. This leaves you with a voyeuristic engagement. In fact, this voyeurism feels like part of the choreography, as if the movement were an overheard conversation that the dancer can enter and chime in. Their gaze doesn’t pull focus away from what's happening onstage, but makes the connection between on and offstage during short solos, duets, and trios more important.
IN AMID, there aren’t any gimmicky steps, and the quality of the movement is smooth, with the occasional white water wave and gesture. The dancing of Sarah Hillmon is particularly stunning as she changes from dynamic fireball to a sylph-like supporter. It is a feel-good group of dancers dancing for a feel-good crowd. I felt like a lullaby was being sung to the audience and as the 45 minutes wore on, the dancers glistened with prized beads of sweat. If you want to leave the theater feeling warm and fuzzy, experiencing Suzanne Beahrs Dance: AMID may just be getting you one step closer to sweet dreams.
(Suzanne Beahrs Dance: AMID played at St. Mark's Church, 131 East 10th Street, through March 29, 2014. Tickets were $20/$15 for Danspace members and were available at dancespaceproject.org, or by calling 866.811.4111.