Somewhere Familiar Melodies: Take Dance at Joe’s Pub….
I had never been to Joe’s Pub, how I’ve missed it is beyond me… But I recently went just to see Take Dance in the World Premiere of Takehiro “Take” Ueyama’s Somewhere Familiar Melodies. Now, if you have never been to Joe’s Pub let me inform you that the stage is about the size of my kitchen. Both are the perfect size to just fit a small piano with somebody singing while sitting on a bar stool or for making roast chicken, but for dance…well, not so much.
So I settled in and ordered the Chocolate Panna Cotta with Amarena Cherries and Crème Fraiche, I mean come on, two of my two favorite things at the same time, chocolate and dance. I was like a pig wallowing in mud on a summer’s day, happy beyond believe! Now perhaps all that gaiety may have been the result of an intense sugar rush, but either way, I was very content.
Somewhere Familiar Melodies is a collection of movement sketches that express a combination of deep sentiment with some whimsical nostalgia alongside the occasional tongue-in-cheek antics that are tinged somewhat by a hint sarcasm….well, perhaps it’s more then just a hint of sarcasm….
Prayer was a quiet meditative solo to Chopin by Jill Echo. In expressions of solemn dignity, Ms. Echo would frame her face with fluttering hands, her moves small and tight to her body, at times exhibiting a sense of deep self-comforting by rocking back and forth. Her dancing portrayed an inner dialog, a reflection of self, a conversation between the conscious and unconscious that possessed a rawness of emotion that was both touching and intimate.
When Kristen Arnold, Brynt Beitman, John Eirich, Kile Hotchkiss and Gina Ianni took the stage for Ouendan (which translates from Japanese to “Cheering Squad”), I got nervous. I thought “oh no, somebody forgot to tell Take the stage’s dimensions”. But I am learning that one should never doubt the genius of Takehiro “Take” Ueyama!
For Ouendan the dancers are wearing Jesse Dunham’s costumes of urban black. The work was extremely high energy with lots of movements that ran somewhere between martial arts and action figures that had come to life. Take utilized every inch of that stage to the fullest.
Next was For Our Dance…Three of the five dancers turn and begin to undress and redress Gina Ianni & Kile Hotchkiss, who both maintain a mannequin’s stillness. The three then begin to reposition Ms. Ianni and Mr. Hotchkiss, turning their bodies to face one another and then rearrange their arms to embrace each other. Just before existing the stage the three dancers stop, look back and discover the two are not moving, a slight nudge from John Eirich is required to get them started
Mr. Hotchkiss throws Ms. Ianni in every direction imaginable and a few that were not. She is like a rag doll in his arms, occasionally moving of her own volition but usually surrendering to the whimsy of Mr. Hotchkiss.
…At this point it’s all I can do not to pick up my plate and lick the remnants of my Chocolate Panna Cotta with Amarena Cherries and Crème Fraiche, it was just that good. But, I digress…
John Eirich comes on stage and takes Ms. Ianni from Mr. Hotchkiss arms, leaving him on stage alone for Cosmos. Set to Momoe Yamaguchi’s Cosmos Mr. Hotchkiss begins his solo by standing very still, then with an express amount of energy begins to move fast, very fast. He leaps into the air then falls to the floor only to repeat it. Suddenly he would stop and gather himself in some Bruce Lee/Kong Foo fashion, knees bent, deep breath, hands in fist as they reach forward and are drawn slowly back to his body with his stomach very tight. He mimes tying something around his waist several times, perhaps an imagined Black Belt.
As a side note, with Mr. Hotchkiss’ tall blond good looks and killer cheek-bones, he looks like he belongs on a runway in Milan…I’m just saying…
Marie Zvosec & John Eirich in Madame M, set to Kenji Sawada’s Kimi Dakeni Ai Wo was one of my favorites of the night. Ms. Zvosec comes on stage with a smile that can only be described as lascivious, her eyes bright and wide with her every move over dramatized. Madame M is made up of a lot of jazz hands and brilliant silliness as Mr. Eirich grabs Ms. Zvosec from behind and begins to turn her in cartwheels over and over. Where Mr. Zvosec is lascivious, Mr. Eirich is just lewd in everything from his facial expressions and to his general attitude. He is the supreme smasher! It is the seduction scenario of your worst nightmares. Brilliantly done and I’m still not sure who was seducing who…..
I would proclaim the World Premiere of Takehiro “Take” Ueyama’s Somewhere Familiar Melodies a great success. All I can say is never count on Take Ueyama to do the expected! He takes movement and sculpts it into unique statements of expression; they are never cliché and always original. Bravo to all for a job exceedingly well done.