Island Moving Company

July 30, 2007

Island Moving Company

Fort Adams and the Great Friends Meeting House, Newport, RI

July 13–22, 2007

Review by Bill Gale

Call it the outdoor/indoor festival. Or maybe stormy weather. But Island Moving Company’s annual outdoor Flight of Steps found itself held hostage to the showers and dire predictions of thunderstorms that plagued Newport, RI in July.

    The solution for this 25-year-old contemporary troupe was to move indoors. They retreated to a structure built in 1699 that began life as a Quaker meeting house. The result was seeing a series of dances including premieres by West Coast choreographer Colin Connor in two distinct forms. When the weather cooperated, concerts were a sort of movable cocktail party complete with beach chairs and blankets. Indoors, it was more about the dancing which was a good thing, most of the time.

    News Falls Like Rain is Connor’s new, one-woman piece to Ravel and it is hard to imagine a more turmoil-filled work, one that evokes the today’s anxieties. Danced with authority and restraint by Debra Noble, the choreographer’s wife, the piece begins with a woman and an envelope. Noble treats the letter like an unexploded bomb. She sets it on her upper back and it becomes an impossible weight. Placing it on a small table, she moves away, fretting. Her arms make jagged cuts through the air, then fold across her stomach, move over her face. But nothing can make the envelope disappear. It remains a fearsome instrument.

    Does it contain word from Iraq or Afganistan? The results of an x-ray? We don’t know, but Connor and Noble put their mark on our time with News Falls Like Rain. At the end, she opens the envelope and dark red petals spill. Outdoors they floated away in the wind. Indoors they fell directly to the floor. The future, unfortunately, is now, the petals said.

    Other new dances included Suite Silver by Island Moving’s Michael Bolger. A nostalgic look back at the company’s 25 years, it had the guys in formal wear with short pants, the gals in—what else?—silver dresses. The music ranged from Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony to Edith Piaf and the punker Adam Ant. The dancers talked about their art (“Dancing helps me get through life.”) But it was in the movement that Island Moving’s performers best expressed their love of dancing. Pirouettes turned into runs, leaps ended by rolling on the floor. Suite Silver was overlong and sometimes self-indulgent. But a love of dancing got through.

    A duet, Kato Edno, was a new work by Danielle Genest of Island Moving. Sara Barney and Rick Vigo celebrated Isaac Albeniz’ Spanish-accented guitar music but failed to find much lover’s passion. The piece flowed but did not trigger emotions.

    Bells tolled, clocks ticked fast in Connor’s new Hold Fast. Dancers crawled, climbed, jumped, but never escaped the passing of time. Near the end, Bolger and veteran Eva Marie Pacheco came together and moved apart. They eyed each other with fierce, relentless concentration. In the end, the dancers huddled on the floor while one stood, arms out to the side, head back, eyes closed. Too much, too much, Hold Fast suggested.