Anne-Marie Mulgrew presented her dance company’s 33rd home season concert at the Performance Garage on June 14 and 15. The playbill showcased a re-imagined One Minute Dances for Small Spaces from 2017, some film pieces, and a world premiere, From Feminine Gaze, all of which showcased her unique and poetic interpretation of feminism and relationship between our spirituality and our bodies. In addition, Asya Zlatina’s powerful piece, Neptune from Storm (2017), danced by Ashley Seales and Colin Murray, staged a quite different side of female and human being from Anne-Marie’s gaze.
The performance began with a question. How long is a minute? It is rare that we spend our day being mindful of every single minute. One minute passes unnoticed, uncared and lost.
In One Minute Dances for Small Spaces AKA Postage Stamp Dances, dancers were given one minute duration of music and a space lit by a spotlight. Each tempo or mood varied. Seeing dancers perform, our sense of one minute began to feel uncertain. When their movements were slow, one minute passed in a blink. When their movements were hectic, one minute felt like 10 minutes. The piece questioned the viewer’s sense of time and also gave some appreciation of an apparently universal concept.
The second part of the program, From the Feminine Gaze, commemorated the (almost) 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment (which guaranteed women the right to vote) and also was inspired by current events surrounding womanhood. It presented five short pieces of dance and a short film created in collaboration with video artist Carmella Vassor-Johnson.
Mulgrew’s choreography shined the most in What, which was danced by Anne-Marie herself. Perhaps one is required to truly understand the meaning and intentions behind each movement before dancing Anne-Marie’s work, instead of merely following the choreography and steps.
The solo dance was danced to the upbeat and exhilarating Bach “The Cello Song” (the iconic Cello Suite 1 reimagined by The Piano Guys and played by eight cellos). It was poetic, just like any other pieces of hers, and relatable to many of us, women. She wore a black hoodie covering her hair and head, and a long white skirt elegantly twirling to the Bach’s melody. Then she wiggled to come out of the skirt as if wanting to emerge and to break out of the stereotyped idea of women. She showed some jumps and steps with her legs, which were free and revealed while her head was still hidden by the hoodie. She put her finger on her lips: Shh, I’ll tell you a secret. Even when we’re modestly covered, the power and potential of women remains. The statement is utterly powerful to hear from a pioneering woman who founded a dance company and has nurtured it for 33 years through numerous social and environmental changes. Anne-Marie gives the dancers and viewers a chance to recognize what we may be missing in our life otherwise.
[Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street] June 14–15, 2019; annemariemulgrewdancersco.org