Four of the Five Artists in the program of new work at the Carriage House this weekend have been members of Everett Dance Theatre, and the fifth is independent choreographer/dancer Paula Hunter, who has often presented her pieces at the Carriage House. It has always been amazing and inspiring to see the result of Everettís collaborative work and, in this program, we are offered the chance to see the creative work of its individuals.
Leading off the evening is A Diluted Experience, choreographed, performed, and written by Paula Hunter. Hunter has always pushed the boundaries of choreography by accompanying her movement pieces with text and/or personal monologues and, in her most recent work, itís as if the words themselves are choreographed: moved about in sweeping, arcing phrases; repeated in varied combinations; given new meaning by their placement.
A Diluted Experience is one of those tongue-in-cheek titles, since the experiences Hunter describes are the opposite of diluted. Theyíre more concentrated at each occurrence, as each one reminds her of the other times, and each time itís a man exposing himself to her. The first time in the piece, in the subway on her way to work as a waitress, triggers her memory of when it happened to her in junior high and at another point when she was walking with her sister and even, in a more innocent way, from a fellow first-grader.
Hunter is extremely adept at setting up the specifics of a scene, whether itís the other people on the subway, the snow falling all around as she shuffles home in loafers with no socks, or standing on the teacherís desk twirling the pointer and throwing breath mints around the room. The sharp precision of Hunterís verbal and visual details is what makes her pieces so memorable.
After Hunter, two young Everett members, Bravell Smith and Ana Paula Monteiro, perform What Remains, a work-in-progress. This is a skillful collage of video images, song, narration, and dance. In overlapping stories, Smith and Monteiro tell us about their backgrounds and heritage (Baptist/Jehovah Witness; Cape Verdean), and they share stories of what it it meant to grow up in more than one culture. Monteiro gives a mesmerizing demonstration of Batuko, a very fast, hip-swiveling dance that at one time in Cape Verde was cause for excommunication and even jail. Smith, for his part, turns double-dutch jump ropes.
Monteiro uses her lush singing voice to set the mood for Smithís soul-searching about what “home” means, what “family” is, and how “the ones you love hold you back.” They are both looking for ways to define who they are and where theyíre headed, and there are some very powerful, very evocative moments from both of them. However, What Remains is so dense, so packed with thoughts and images, so quickly paced, that it can be difficult to absorb it all in one sitting. Then again, thatís what lures us back to listen a second time.
Next up is Eddie Silvestre, who has performed with Everett and taught flipping at the Carriage House. He begins his piece, Translating for My Father, with a short dance, combining flipping and hip-hop movement to techno- pop. He does one-handed back-flips, walks across the floor on his head (!), and then, as pictures of his parents are projected onto the back wall, the music changes to a merengue beat, and he begins the tale of his father and grandfather, both named Hector Silvestre.
When Hector Sr. died, all nine of his wives gathered, along with their children, for a family portrait. Silvestre encourages audience members to guess how many siblings and half-siblings his father had, but no one comes up with the right answer: 74! His father emigrated from the Dominican Republic to Lawrence, Massachusetts, and then to Providence, and when young Eddie was in second grade, the teacher told his mother, “Heís going to have problems if he doesnít learn English.” What follows is my favorite line in Silvestreís piece (which has loads of warm-hearted humor): “I learned English, but I still have problems!” (He learned his English from TVís Batman.)
The scene for which the piece is titled has a young Eddie translating at a yard sale, when his father wants to bargain down the price of a lawnmower and embarrasses his son with his antics. But Silvestre concludes from this and other anecdotes that this “wildest and craziest guy” was teaching him personality, tolerance, and “how to cope with crazy people,” and heís ultimately very proud to be his son.
In the final new work at the Carriage House, Silas, Aaron Jungels presents an absolutely astonishing portrait of his nephew, Silas, who has autism. At times heart-wrenching, at times hilarious, this piece is nothing short of brilliant in its artistic representations of how the mind of a differently-abled child might work. Jungels uses video images of Silas, projected onto wavy white curtains, onto book pages rippling from a fan, onto a spinning disc on the ceiling, onto a disc on the floor. Each kind of “screen” adds its own quality to what Silas is doing, whether running, reading or swimming.
When Jungels interviews the on-screen Silas, his face glows with the intensity of learning Silasís language. Jungels intersperses three dance sequences in the piece, one with a huge green ball, one with his nine-year-old niece, Grace Bevilacqua, and one with his seven-year-old nephew, Nino Bevilacqua. The latter two are graceful, attentive partners, moving in ways Silas can only dream of, whereas the ball is unpredictable and jerky, more akin to his mind and movements. This piece is amazing for its lack of sentimentality and its wealth of love, with Jungels using the latter to incorporate Silasís differences into a portrait of him as a whole person. Run, donít walk, to see the new work at the Carriage House!
Five Artists will be presented on Friday and Saturday, May 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. at the Carriage House Stage, 7 Duncan Ave., Providence. Tickets are $10. Call (401) 831-9479.
Issue Date: May 23 - 29, 2003
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