Spring Home Season Concert (Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers): Few Shared Moments with Kun-Yang Lin & Dancers

Republished by kind permission from The Dance Journal


photo credit: Frank Bicking

Kun-Yang Lin’s home season at the Prince marked a new revitalized spirit for both the company and its choreographer. While the program highlighted three premieres, the company members and Mr. Lin enthusiastically signaled not only a sense of renewal, but also an excitement of moving forward in to new territory in their exploration of movement.

The opening number Dreamscape was accompanied by the music of Daniel Rhode and a live performance of violinist, Todd Reynolds. While the music added to the surreal landscape created in this piece, the placement and lighting of Mr. Reynolds became a bit of a distraction to watching the movement on stage. Nevertheless, the dancers garbed in all black, blending in to the dimly lit background, created an other-world experience with a continual shifting of bodies and shapes. This was highlighted in the duet that emerged with dancers Annielille Gavino Kollman and Brian Cordov, whose brilliant interplay was accentuated by their height differences, creating a continually shifting perspective as their shadows cast danced in sync on the scrim behind them. Following a second shorter duet featuring Mo Liu and Grace Stern, we were then once again transported in to the ether. They were eventually joined by the full cast in a powerful and striking syncopation of movement.

Between production numbers we were treated to a solo by Helen Hale, utilizing mask and glow in the dark tipped fingers and select body parts. Her movements, while punctuated quite different, seemed almost an extension of the previous piece, inviting us to come along in this transformative journey.

With the premiere of Moment/s, we are literally taken on a whirlwind of fleeting moments in our everyday existence, challenging our very notions of time, space, relationships, tension, stillness and discovery. The piece itself is divided in to two sets of “moments”. The first of these moments, opened to company members dressed in everyday attire walking briskly, to what we might experience as a daily rhythm. Eventually, the background noise gives way to a featured solo by Weiwei Ma. She treats us to a flowing, rich textured series of never ending movements that evoke both an emotional and spiritual quality, often the result of making choices and uncovering new meanings. Her movements challenge us in unexpected ways on this journey of self discovery.

With Moment II, we are presented with soloist, Evalina Cain Carbonell, who exuded both power and control in the “moments” she presented. I have seen Ms. Carbonell perform many times before, but in this piece, she embodied a new sense of both strength and freedom that made her performance riveting. Powerful movements with underlying tension and moments of strong quietness examined boundaries of our very existence. Eventually, the cast rejoins her on stage, moving in unison and coming together in a grounded stillness as they stare intently downward, leaving us to ponder these shared and fleeting moments.

We are once again treated to another Interlude between premieres. From between the curtains appeared Nikolai McKenzie, bare except for a black pair of shorts. His solo begins with minuscule movements of tension of varying muscle groups throughout his body. These are highlighted by lighting, designed by Stephen Petrilli, that literally created ripples, shadows and painted textures and layers, which accentuated his highly controlled movements. Mr. KcKenzie’s performance was a memorable highlight of the evening!

The last of the premieres before intermission was Vertigo, in which the KYL Dancers moved rapidly across the stage whirling, playing with and challenging the forces of gravity. Momentary pauses in the music left them intricately balanced and poised, then suddenly breaking in to repetitive phrasing and partnering as they once again succumbed to nature’s forces moving in unison.

The final piece of the evening was Autumn Skin, a 2016 revision of Mr. Lin’s choreography, which I had originally seen back in 2010 at the Painted Bride. As with most choreographers, no work is ever truly finished, but this re-make of what was already a very powerful piece was simply superb. Every action has a reaction; and we all share an interconnectedness that transcends our own physicality. In each of our actions, we affect our environment and those who surround us both seen and unseen. With Autumn Skin, Mr. Lin literally peels back the layers, allowing us to examine our own existence and its affect on others, and from the chaos find new meaning, perhaps just as he has done with his own company. Read another review of this show on The Dance Journal >>

[Prince Theater, 1412 Chestnut Street] April 14-16, 2016; princetheater.org.

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About the author

Steven Weisz for The Dance Journal

While not a dancer himself, Weisz’s love for the arts and dance started as a child growing up in New York City. With parents, who were strong supporters of the arts and part of a community with an incredible array of notable artists in music, dance, theater and fine arts, Weisz’s access and affinity for the performing arts took root. Upon attending college in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid-70s, Weisz started performing as a puppeteer, magician, juggler and fire eater as a means of supplementing his income. This soon grew in to what became Rainbow Promotions Inc., one of the largest entertainment and special events producers in the region. It was here that he began to promote and book dance for major events throughout the city. Many of the dancers he worked with in the early days of his company are now major choreographers in Philadelphia. At the same time, Weisz’s interest in computers and the early developments of what is now known as the Internet, led him to also start another company, Delaware Valley On Line, which became one of the first regional ISPs. It was this combination of event production, internet development and event marketing that led him to examine the use of the internet as a means to promote the arts. Dance continued to be a major interest for Weisz and in 2005 he founded PhiladelphiaDANCE.org as a major online resource to promote dance in the city. It was soon after that the Dance Journal was also founded as a way to provide an outlet for writing on a range of topics that encompass the ever growing and emerging dance community in the region. Weisz continues to run both PhiladelphiaDANCE and The Dance Journal on purely a voluntary basis with no income derived from any of his projects. He is also the Artistic Director of MM2 Modern Dance Company, an incubator, providing support, space and opportunities for new emerging dance artists, who wish to explore the choreographic process, in order to cultivate and introduce new work to new audiences.