[54] ADJACENT SPACES (Leah Stein Dance Company): Fringe review

Published by The Dance Journal. Republished with kind permission.

Leah Stein Dance Company ADJACENT SPACES Fringe reviewLeah Stein‘s ADJACENT SPACES is an elegiac chamber dance that interacts with the incredible rooms at Shiloh Baptist Church at 21st and Christian Street. In fact, there is so much atmosphere of communities coming together here with a 150 years of history, that it is hard to articulate the interactive effect Stein essays. One of the reasons she wanted to use the space is because it is both active as a church and living center, but also in constant disrepair.

The first section is a solo danced by Stein in the second floor chapel, with a wood pipe organ and dismantled circular pews, risers and piles of discarded supplies. Stein moves about the room, connecting her body with objects as violinist Diane Monroe follows her.  Stein, who can drop out of sight among the detritus, or just become part of it. Stein’s fragmented movement phrasing breaks out into free dance to Monroe’s wending string line. This has an immediacy and improvisational dynamics that keeps evolving into a music-dance dialogue. For such high ceilings, the room has warm natural acoustics that don’t evaporate or bounce the rich textures of Monroe‘s violin.

Stein’s tentative, fragmented movement phrasing breaks out into free dance to Monroe’s roving string line.  The improv stream of choreographic and musical dynamic of time and space is a liberated dialogue.  They float out and we are then are led to the upper room- one corner a boxy enclave with brilliant southern light streaming in, and the other an attic expanse under high angled skylight and eaves. Cunningham’s sonorous viola coming in from another room.

David Konyk and Gabrielle Revlock are in one section of the room, executing acrobatic moves on and under a large dark wood. At various points they freeze their positions for several moments. Konyk vaults onto one edge in a locked handstand his head on positioned off the edge. Revlock flings herself between the table and wall in an instant. They lift each other in various slo-motion phrases and limb interlocks.  Meanwhile, in the other section of the room, Germaine Ingram and Michelle Tantoco are tuning into the percussive messages and energy of an ancient looking heavy wood table. Ingram runs her fingers over the wood grains, taps out signals then taps out phrases on the floor. Their combined vocalizations are alternately dissonant, high pitch, then basso frequencies. Tantoco dances with two metal lamp shades in ritualistic Asian expressionism.

Because we are looking back and forth, the accumulated images play dramatically off the natural light changing as it streams through the windows, seemingly on cue. The finale takes place in the first room, with Stein and the musicians joining the rest of the troupe. They dances as they move the curved pews in haphazardly in place and then they pull audience members to fill them. ADJACENT SPACES spiritual energy and renewal. For Stein it is metaphysically serene, vital work that enriches the senses, if not the soul. [Shiloh Baptist Church] September 14-21, 2013, fringearts.ticketleap.com/adjacent-spaces.

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About the author

Lewis Whittington for The Dance Journal

Lewis Whittington’s articles on the performing arts have appeared in several print and online publications including The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Advocate, Dance Magazine, American Theatre Magazine, Huffington Post, Playbill and Stage Directions.