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  • Writer's pictureJen Norris

Review: KH Fresh Festival presents enNingúnlugar’s ‘Cinética,’ February 9-10, 2024 at Dance Mission Theater, San Francisco

International exchange, including multiple points of artistic engagement, is essential to the Kathleen Hermesdorf Fresh Festival experience. Artists Humberto Vega and Anna Karen Gonzalez Huesca, representing the Latin American art collective and service organization enNingúnlugar, are offering HÁBITAT, a multi-day holistic movement lab (Feb 12-17).  Their performance offering is a dramatic solo entitled Cinética, about a superheroine of the same name.  “With unparalleled power and an innate sense of justice, Cinética has dedicated her life to fighting crime and protecting the innocent. However, as their consciousness awakens, Cinética is forced to question her own role in the cycles of violence that plagues the world,” the printed program elucidates.  Cinética, performed by Huesca, comprises the second and final act of a mixed bill at the Dance Mission Theater on the opening weekend, February 9 and 10.


Lights rise, on both the performer, seated, and the audience. A resonant, buzzy mechanical soundtrack plays.  Clothed in black coveralls, with stems of pink flowers sprouting from the seams, the figure approaches, a twenty-first century flowerchild.  A black nylon-stocking obscures facial features, lending them anonymity and an everyman ethos.  Using sign language, the figure speaks in emphatic gestures.  Roaming along the front of the stage, they search for an audience member who understands. It is unclear if anyone does, though an increasing urgency is apparent.  It is frustrating for both parties to exist across this language barrier.  The figure gives up.


In silence, they remove their coveralls and stocking to unveil a flamingo-pink single-breasted suit and a flesh-colored face mask, upon which surrealistic features have been crudely drawn, perhaps with lipstick.  A long blond braid is added to the crown of the head, possibly in homage to WWE wrestler Bianca Blair, known to use her ropey braid as a weapon.


Notes of a universally understood superhero tune play through some distortion, as our heroine kicks high into the air and runs to and fro throwing air-punches in time to sound effects. Assuming a heroic stance, wide legged with fisted hand hovering overhead, she jabs the other arm out as if dueling.  The forces of injustice are powerful, tossing her into the wall, chocking her. We see her tussling with invisible opponents.


The fight has passed, the stage is washed in low angle warm light.  Throwing off the pink suit, a nearly naked form (Huesco wears a nude bodysuit) rolls and arches awkwardly across the floor, in a moment of rebirth.  The lights pulse, suggestive of the passage of time, as the figure struggles to arrive belly first onto a lone chair. Exhausted she rises to perch on the chair and regards us, naked and alone, legs wide spread.


Soon an older woman comes to life, as Huesca wiggles into a black-and-white floral-print shirtdress. She ties a headscarf under chin and adds a weighty shawl. Shuffling along, stoop-shouldered and tipping sideways, she spies the pink suit.  Arranging it carefully on the ground, she lays face first upon it, a physical manifestation of visiting a former self. 

A new lighter tone enters as a piano melody is introduced.  With renewed energy she moves to gather the coveralls. Draping them, she salsas around the space, as if supporting a loved one in her arms.  The work of saving the planet must be passed along to another generation and thus she lays the garment across the arms of a patron in the front row, slowly backing away to the sounds of what might be distant machine gun fire.


Adjusting her shawl, she returns to the chair. She assumes the heroic pose: legs lunging, arms raised, she remains ready for battle, or perhaps she has been enshrined for her heroic efforts in the unending fight against injustice, as the lights fade.


Anna Karen Gonzalez Huesca bows after her performance in enNingúnlugar’s ‘Cinética,’ Photo: J. Norris


Fresh Fest has numerous workshops, activations and performances taking place at various San Francisco venues in the next week, with an all-new program of performances,

February 16 & 17, at Dance Mission. More info at www.freshfestival.org


Review by Jen Norris, published February 12, 2024

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Cinética

enNingúnlugar

Anna Karen Gonzalez Huesca, Humberto Vega

Sound designer: Daniel Gonzalez

Light design: gg torres

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