Danspace Project, St. Mark’s Church, New York, NY; March 28, 2014
Power does not always come with sharp, authoritarian force. Sometimes it creeps in slowly, gently, unobtrusive like a whisper. In the case of “Amid,” presented by Suzanne Beahrs Dance, the expression of power gradually escalates in intensity, and is strongly felt. A dance for five women, “Amid” explores the universal themes of joy, pain, love, fear, loss and community, taking the audience on a convoluted journey through experiences we all share. “I want to create dances that connect us with the intricacy of the present moment through movement that is as potent as it is vibrant,” said Beahrs. “Amid” achieves that aim beautifully.
Like a movement meditation, the hour long piece ebbed and flowed like a tide, a breath. Beginning with a solo dancer in a pool of light downstage left, and swelling to intricate, kaleidoscopic patterns and spiraling, intersecting pathways, “Amid” is a pleasantly hypnotic visual journey. Beahrs’ development and use of the stage space, the way she weaves phrases across and around the floor like colorful silk strands in a scarf, draws the eye to both gorgeously delicate gestures and sweeping group movement nearly simultaneously. Throughout the performance I was reminded of smooth, pastel colored rocks and shells tumbling onto the shore and being pulled back out again and again, and of birds banking and flocking across a clear blue sky. The visual effects of “Amid” were soothing and calming, but not lulling or in any way boring. Ms. Beahrs has a gift for crafting her luxurious, sweeping movements to highlight even the smallest gestural details. Equally pleasing is her ability to craft movement phrases that are perfectly contrasted between smooth and sharp qualities; just as the eye is getting used to a certain easy going dynamic, a dancer will clench a fist, vibrate an arm with bound energy, syncopate a step or two, then fall right back into the flow, leaving us wondering- “Did I see that?” The same holds true for her patterning. One dancer will join two or three others in moments of unison, and just as the eye registers that community, one will seamlessly slip away, like waves receding on a beach, almost unnoticeable.
“Amid” is hypnotic yet vibrant, mesmerizing yet dynamic, and completely engaging for the eyes and mind. Ms. Beahrs is a talented choreographer with a strong voice and I look forward to seeing more of her work.