Recently, I have had the pleasure of viewing many performances from international and local artists in the Philadelphia dance community. This past weekend Anne-Marie and Dancers Company performed at the Christ Church Neighborhood House Theater (read review). The evening opened up with a short film segment from the WHYY T.V. Friday Arts Program in which the founder Anne-Marie Mulgrew spoke about her philosophy on dance movement. For 31 years, this company has strove to demonstrate that people, at any age and at any point in their lives, can dance. Anne-Marie is a collaborator, choreographer, performer, and educator.
The 16 short dance pieces in One Minute Dances for Small Spaces was for the individual dancers to mimic the nature of one minute in a restricted space. The dancer, Ixchel Mendez, introduced the concept of one minute: “imagine balancing on one leg for one minute, a T.V commercial usually lasts only for one minute, a heart beats 72 times in one minute, and when the body is active the heart beat rises up to 95 heartbeats a minute, 400 videos on Youtube are uploaded in one minute, and a snail moves 2 inches in one minute. Each dancer was given one minute in the spotlight to perform. I noticed the colors of the dancers and the white umbrella in Anne-Marie Mulgrew’s performance The Umbrella.The 16 piece dances began as solo pieces and gradually worked up to include duets and multiple dancers under the spotlight.
The second half opened up with Frances A Dance 4 Camera Project premiering for the first time since discovering it in their archives from 2009-2010. Frances Gremillion uses the space at The Performance Garage to explore and create within the stairwell. Dance 4 Camera Projects are experimental collaborations with video artist Carmella Vassor-Johnson. They have filmed more than 50 dance experiments since 1998. Dancing and the filming of the dancer in an alternative space shows a world outside of the theater.
The second dance featured the dance called Storm choreographed by Asya Zlatina. The knife in this dance is as much about the tension that is built around the lighting and the sound effects. This is a dark but cinematic piece that is part of a larger work in progress for the Fringe Festival which will premiere in September 2017. In my opinion, it leads well into the next Dance 4 Camera Project by AMM & DCO called Citrus Limon. The colors in Citrus Limon are bright and the movement is encouraging. The Yellow fruit passes from one hand to the next, the hand squeezes the juice out of it, and the film ends with the words “Anti-Viral” and “Contraceptive.” The performance on stage in Storm and the 3500 lemons used in Citrus Limon both express a sense of pain and pleasure.
The Next Chapter is a dance with four sections and each section is based on one word. Lush is the first section, section two is insist, section three is relentless, and section four is, it is. To be lush is a sensation, where as insist is more aggression and relentless is to never give up. The last section, it is, is a platonic state of being. The dancers are arm in arm facing away from the audience. It is a relationship with the everyday world, but the dancer that turns around is awake and not dreaming. This temporal moment is an instant visual image that leaves us with something once the performance is over.
Christ Church Neighborhood House Theater, 20 N. American Street] June 8-10, 2017; annemariemulgrewdancersco.org