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  • Writer's pictureJen Norris

Review: SKETCH 12: Dear Diary - Amy Seiwert's Imagery

Over a dozen iterations, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery has produced an evening of dance focused on a prompt or challenge, in this case inspired by nostalgia or memory. The goal of the SKETCH series has been to motivate the choreographers to take risks, to “fail-forward,” to drive innovation around classical ballet. SKETCH 12: Dear Diary, was presented at Fort Mason’s Cowell Theater July 15 & 16. This tryptic of dance works created over a five-week rehearsal period by three choreographers working with the same company of eight ballet-centered dancers, showed off the versatility of the dancers. The three works varied in style. Each was successful on its own merits making for a satisfying evening of repertory dance.

Amy Seiwert’s TIDES opened the evening with a quite traditional contemporary ballet, performed to classical piano and string music by early 21st Century Italian composer Ezio Bosso. The piece opened with a series of tableaus in which a single dancer, posed in a lift above the others. The dancers, dressed in short-sleeved leotards, the hand-painted bodices in splashes of watery blue on white, atop a blue short by Susan Roemer, looked like a water ballet team. The influences of water and swimming were subtly present throughout. Dancers dove forward spreading their arms in broad breast strokes. A hand and arm traveled in a wave pattern as it crossed a body.

A dancer looking longingly over her shoulder at the audience near the beginning of the piece repeated at the end with the whole company, reinforced the nostalgia theme. Seiwert is a skilled choreographer and the ballet is well-crafted and expertly danced, though it felt a bit flat, as it lacked her trademark sense of fun and zest for life.

Liminal Space choreographed by Natasha Adorlee in collaboration with the dancers was pure contemporary dance. In a video preceding the piece Ms. Adorlee shared her inspiration, the grief of losing her father at a young age and now feeling his loss anew as her memory of him fades. She spoke about griefs’ varied qualities and non-linear nature.

The company, now clothed in sepia-toned utilitarian genderless tops and pants, was very grounded. They began in a pulsing pile on the stage slowly growing into individuals. The vocabulary included deep knee-bent pliés, long lunges, arms bent at the elbows held at right-angles and flexed feet. Movements rippled through bodies beginning at the head and rolling down through shoulders and torsos to pelvises and knees. One body reacted to another, echoing the ripple like a wave moving through a stadium of sports fans.

Liminal Space was segmented by stark differences in movement, soundscape and light. The music ranged from counter-tenor Baroque singing, to tribal drumming, to a voiceover of a woman recalling the last time she saw a specific man. The woman spoke about his face and the elusiveness of memory as a dancer stood facing front, with others surrounding him using their hands to cover his forehead, ears, and mouth, leaving only his eyes showing, until eventually even they are covered. Then their bodies and hands waved, like reeds in the wind, revealing bits of his face, a receding memory in a fuzzy warm light.

Dreamy sections were followed by a lively Vivaldi-accompanied affectionate duet for two men and a sassy group grapevine and salsa step with Spanish guitar. The abrupt nature of the transitions reinforced Adorlee’s concept of grief’s many facets.

Joshua L. Peugh’s KINK ended the evening on a joyous note. This hootenanny was a show stopper, full of scene stealers, performed to a series of country songs by queer icon Orville Peck. Peugh delighted us with everything from foot fetishes (nose to boot swooning) to rose petal confetti. While it began as a low-rent prom, the fog-shrouded room bathed in pink with three male-female couples engaged in staid slow-dances, it quickly evolved into sexy same-sex couple dancing. Peugh wove classical ballet vocabulary throughout this country-western work. In one section two dancers, Brandon Alexander and Anthony Cannarella, had a playful dance-off, taking turns performing vertical leaps with quick foot beats.

Susan Roemer’s western-wear costumes were unique for each performer, one with fringed sleeves, another with beaded yoke. Matisse D’Aloisio, wore the only skirt, and made great use of its swirl in her one-legged fast turning solo. The most memorable costume piece was a cartoonish oversized bear head worn by a dancer (a reference to gay male bear culture?). While the bear and partner held each other close, a trio of dancers promenaded. Each carried a long-stemmed red rose, ala bridesmaids, as Orville sang “roses are falling for you.” There was howling at the wind and a full company sock hop. In the end a male couple lay happily in a pool of light as the stage faded to black much too soon.

Review by Jen Norris 7/16/22

Photo Credit .Imagery in "Kink" by Joshua L. Peugh, featuring Anthony Cannarella. Courtesy Amy Seiwert's Imagery. Photo by David DeSilva. Costumes by Susan Roemer, S-Curve Apparel & Design, Lighting by Brian Jones

Full Program here.

Production Credits:

LIGHTING DESIGN: Brian Jones COSTUMES: Susan Roemer, S-Curve Apparel and Design DANCERS: Brandon Alexander, Isaac Bates-Vinueza, Anthony Cannarella, Matisse D’Aloisio, Joseph A. Hernandez, Jenna Marie, Kelsey McFalls, Isabella Velasquez

TIDES: CHOREOGRAPHY: Amy Seiwert MUSIC: Ezio Bosso Emily’s Room — “Sweet and Bitter” Road Signs Variation — “Entrance” Music for Weather Elements — “II. Clouds, the Mind on the (Re) Wind” DANCERS: Full Company

LIMINAL SPACE: CHOREOGRAPHY: Natasha Adorlee in collaboration with the Dancers MUSIC: Mark Whitcare — “Sleep” Antonio Vivaldi — “Dixit Dominus in D Major, RV 594 IV Tecum” Yaron Engler — “Still Moving” Anouar Brahem — “Galilée mon Amour” Taiko Drums — “Taiko” Antonio Vivaldi — “Dixit Dominus in D Major, RV 594 VIII De Torrente in via” Divan Gattamora — “Árida” Ólafur Arnalds — “Saudade” VOICE OVER: Kelsey McFalls TEXT: Natasha Adorlee DANCERS: Full Company

KINK: CHOREOGRAPHY: Joshua L. Peugh MUSIC: Orville Peck “Kansas (Remembers Me Now)” “The Curse of the Blackened Eye” “Roses Are Falling” “Nothing Fades Like the Light” “C’mon Baby, Cry” “Any Turn” DANCERS: Full CompanyL

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