Imprints in Motion

November 18, 2006

Imprints in Motion
Meeting House Theatre, Community Education Center, Philadelphia, PA

November 18–19, 2006

Reviewed by Elizabeth Zimmer

A group of dancers in their 60s and beyond, all of whose lives have been touched by German choreographer-teacher Mary Wigman, came together to rehearse and perform “The Passion for Dance.” This program of original works, composed in the spirit of Wigman and directed by Brigitta Herrmann, celebrated the 120th anniversary of Wigman’s birth, gathering women from Colorado, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and the Philadelphia area. It marked the transformation of Hermann’s Ausdruckstanz Dance Theater into the newly formed Imprints in Motion, a group that intends to move beyond dance to incorporate movement choir and performance ritual.

One item, performed by dancer Mary Anne Santos Newhall, re-created the dance legend’s 1926 Hexentanz, or “witch dance,” in a mask and costume by Nancy Reyner. The other six pieces, all very short, included dances by Sandy Broyard, Vickie Seitchik, Sarah Manno, Barbara Dilley, Sheila Zagar, and Herrmann. Incorporating video, calligraphy, text, and lovingly crafted costumes, they ranged from Seitchik’s tai-chi—derived Quaking Aspen (which recounted a health crisis in her life, witnessed by the full cast standing in for a tree) to Dilley’s solo, Pilgrim of Now. Dilley, who teaches at Naropa University, offered a grounded, utterly focused monologue, with music by Charles Amirkhanian.

The grandest production was Herrmann’s In the Circle, a ritual of simple sound and movement involving a pile of small stones used by the cast as percussion instruments. We in the audience discovered stones under our seats, which allowed us to participate in the work. This far-flung group of women, drawn together by their experiences with Wigman and moved to create and share, are as interesting to listen to as they are to watch. They bring a quiet dignity to their own choreographies, an engagement with nature and culture, mature emotion, and the passage of time. They invoke Buddhism, play music by Brahms, Philip Glass, and Arvo Pärt, and work, separately and together, to achieve what Wigman called “the consciously lived and fulfilled moment.” We who drove down from New York to attend this concert were deeply moved.