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November 23, 2015
Review: Three Companies on The Rise at the Upsurge Choreography Platform
Omar Roman de Jesus' Saakasu.
Omar Roman de Jesus' Saakasu.

Co-produced by Megan Lynn, of Asterial Dance, and Nick Nagle, of NSquared Dance, The Upsurge Choreography platform provides a venue for up-and-coming choreographers and companies to showcase their work. This program features work by three companies: Delineation Dance, Christina D’Arrigo, and Omar Roman de Jesus. Thursday’s ‘preview’ performance also included works by Asterial Dance and NSquared Dance.

The first piece of the evening, Delineation Dance’s Moments Unnoticed, was team choreographed by co-directors Devon Smith and Lisa M. Anderson. Presented in several sections, Moments Unnoticed brings the elements of human interaction to the stage. The first section opens on two dancers perched atop a cube. Moving around each other, occupying the same, very small, space, they manage to create an entire history on top of that box. The vignette isn’t without its clumsy moments—they are working with four square feet—but then again, life itself is a bit clumsy.

Delineation’s following pieces were just as thoughtful, and thought-provoking. Relationship dynamics are explored through weight sharing and the creative use of props—partnerships colliding and dividing through movement—creating new, shared moments.

Christina D’Arrigo’s pieces, Falling Action and Foreshadow, are almost yogic in their performance. Falling Action, a solo that Ms. D’Arrigo performed herself, is a meditation on the self and self-perception. Fragmented choreography is accompanied by an equally jarring soundtrack of indistinguishable garbled speech, electronic sounds, and the occasional judgmental sentence fragment. Ms. D’Arrigo works toward self-realization in a struggle that is distinctly human. She grasps at something that turns out to be nothing; fights herself for the sake of herself.

Foreshadow brings three other dancers into the fold, contrasting the speed of dancers dressed in black with the sloth of those dressed in nudes. D’Arrigo explores the structure of time by using the same choreographic sequences at different speeds to create a sense of wanting to stop and notice the world.

Omar Roman de Jesus closed the evening with Saakasu. The same piece performed at the REVERBdance festival a few weeks ago, set on fewer dancers, de Jesus’s work still shines. The lighting design contributed immensely to this performance of Saakasu, bathing all the dancers alternately in eerie, late-night horror story lighting and white, almost fluorescent top lights, and elevating the piece from mere pseudo-comedy into the outright grotesque circus de Jesus meant it to be.

In a section not performed at REVERBdance, Mr. de Jesus set the denouement of the piece to Fleur de Lis. Setting a piece on Fleur de Lis is a very conscious choice—one that is too often made with a cliched intention in the dance world. However, de Jesus’s choice was the right one in this case. Rather than rely on the romanticism of Fleur de Lis to drive the piece, the piece drove Fleur de Lis, by way of the same dim lighting and vaudeville-meets-underworld choreography, into exactly what de Jesus intended for a ghostly fade-out.

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