A powerful image can move you, and Visceral Dance company takes it literally: ten photographs, striking in their exotic yet direct humanity, are points of departure for ten choreographers. Their solo pieces, roughly sewn at the edges, explore the various incarnations of movement, be it the ancient art of interpretive dance, or loose improvisation, or physical comedy borderline on slapstick, or an exquisite piece of shape-shifting contortion, or just a communal way of having a lot of fun (if you are young and rhythmically inclined).
Every time the young dance company puts on its SOLUS show, it is uneven by design–it takes risks with unexpected lunges into a space that is less purely performative and is porous for the audience to engage with. The audience is at the level with the dancers (who also MC lightheartedly), and is drawn into the rapid-fire experience of discrete dancing episodes that make up a changing flow of the show. That unpredictability is rich–occasionally it triggers a short-lived delight before your attention is lulled by another piece. This openness to novelty and exploration that is shared by the choreographers, dancers and the audience, is one of the most appealing aspects of the SOLUS experience.
SOLUS 2017 takes the exploration farther than before: inspired by the works of a documentary photographer France Leclerc, it lends rich and fragile images to dancers’ mobile response. The pieces run the gamut of contemporary dance du jour–sumptuous, sweeping motions counteracted by angular action and isolated tics, and some of the work feels intentionally rough and unfinished. And then a real show-stopper: “A Straightforward Decision” by Anna Long with a tightly wound Caitlin Cucchiara brings into focus how experiments yield the unexpected. A simple image (a girl looking at the door) catapults a three-part dynamic miniature (complete with a soundtrack of ironic pop references and a static graphic that is interpreted differently depending on the title of each part) that is pure joy, visceral and visual. And it lands you farther than you’ve been before–which is the point of it all. (Elena Zinchenko)
At the Chop Shop, 1st Ward Events, 2033 West North (773)537-4440. May 11-13. $35-$75 (Saturday benefit)
For tickets: Friday: brownpapertickets.com/event/2922111?date=1701476
Saturday Benefit: brownpapertickets.com/event/2922111?date=1701477