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STELLA- a series of miniature manifestos; Sidra Bell Dance NY

December 6, 2011
Jonathan Campbell Photo by Jubal Battisti

Jonathan Campbell Photo by Jubal Battisti

Sidra Bell is a product of the 21st Century.  Coming from a generation in which information is but a click away and technology is a part of the everyday experience, her work exhibits the influence of both. If you are a dance purest and your vision is constrained but what has been the norm or expected from modern dance, than Ms. Bell’s work is not for you. If you are open and aware of the changing current of our times, a tuned to the rapidity in which our daily existence has been altered by the progression of the changes made by the influence of technology, social networking and the constant influx of information than Ms. Bell’s work will be like an oasis found within the desert.

Ms. Bell’s is an Expressionist. She reflects a state of mind rather than a reality. In Expressionismthe artist attempts to depict not objective reality but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse in him”.  In essence Ms. Bell works speaks of that which cannot be expressed in words!

Alexandra Johnson and Lavinia Anna Maria Vago Photo by Jubal Battisti

Alexandra Johnson and Lavinia Anna Maria Vago Photo by Jubal Battisti

I was invited to the Sidra Bell Dance NY Season Preview at Red Bean Studios and was witness to Ms. Bell’s newest work, STELLA- a series of miniature manifestos. Ms. Bell, besides being an Expressionist is also a Deconstructionist, in that she is redefining the concept and categories that are has been traditional imposed on dance. She is involved with the exploration of movement, be it the smallest of gestures or the use of the whole body.

The evening began as a mixer, an exciting mixture of artist and individuals enjoying red wine and cheese, to an intoxicating sound track. During this Alexandra Johnson began to separate herself from the crowd, slowly and deliberately, stepping backwards while using her hands to pull her head to the side as if stretching a too tight muscle.  So began the dance.

The dancers each stand on opposites and reach for each other, in which some form of communication is passed, known only to each other. They incorporate a wide range of styles, shadow boxing while sitting on the floor, there are elements of voguing, and everyday movement becomes complicated. Evident are the influence of Hip-hop with subtle popping and locking and even a seemingly oh so subtle nod to Madonna! The language of movement ranges from fluidity to tight, percussive, and even jerky.

Jonathan Campbell and Austin Diaz Photo by Jubal Battisti

Jonathan Campbell and Austin Diaz Photo by Jubal Battisti

There are intricate solos while other dancers crawl on the floor, it is seems a tag team response is required by the clapping of hands to signal the change in the solos. At times there are elements of playfulness briefly glimpsed than gone. Intricate gestures to the face, a reoccurring theme, are explored mirrored by a video montage in the background.

There is a pattern without seeming to be a pattern. The dancers explore and deconstruct movement we take for granted in a mixture of long limbs and then tiny movements. For there is something deeper being expressed that cannot be expressed in words and the movement itself is mesmerizing in its intensity.   Almost a language of silence!

The dancers do not necessarily establish a “front” but explore the whole space. We see the body from a pedestrian point of view as we would someone walking down a street or up a stair, for their destination and journey are relevant only to them at that moment. We are spectators and this is exhibited as the dancers sit and watch others dance and are totally captivated by the process that is unfolding.

Alexandra Johnson, Lavinia Anna Maria Vago Photo: Jubal Battisti

Alexandra Johnson, Lavinia Anna Maria Vago Photo: Jubal Battisti

STELLA- a series of miniature manifestos is not a linear work but snapshots and scenes of the working of Sidra Bell’s creative process. If you try to compare this work with some other than you have missed its importance and the intelligence of the piece. One must experience Ms. Bell’s work with an open mind. She is exploring uncharted territories. With the passing of so many of our dance luminaries, the past revolutionaries of dance, new presences will emerge, dancers and choreographers who will reshape the landscape of dance, imprint a new face upon the scope of what is movement. I believe Sidra Bell belongs in this group.

STELLA- a series of miniature manifestos

Choreography: Sidra Bell


 Jonathan Campbell, Austin Diaz, Alexandra Johnson, Lavinia Anna Maria Vago

Music: Various

Costume Design- Erin Schultz

Lighting Design- Amith Chandrashaker

Video- Dakota Scott

World Premiere-

March 22-25, 2011 (Thurs.-Sun.)

Th. 8pm, Fri. 8pm, Sat. 3pm, 8pm, Sun. 3pm

Baruch Performing Arts Center

East 25th Street btw Lexington & Third Avenues



From → Dance

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