Greensboro Girl Unveils New Dance CompanyJun 4th, 2012 | By John Friedrich | Category: Entertainment, Sights
“This is like – what do they call it in sports? Yeah, our first ‘home game!’” Jen Guy Metcalf is a graduate of the UNCG Dance Department, and currently the founder and director of the Terranova Dance Theatre. At the City Arts Center in downtown Greensboro, our chickens finally came to roost last week after touring dance festivals across a good swath of the country.
Dance for camera is a subgenre that allows for time lapses, perspective jumps and other techniques that are physically impossible to perform in the real world of instantaneous dance. “Living Room” was a cute short film describing the playful quest of a couple to see who is in charge, otherwise known as who gets to hold the remote control. Meg Ralston-Asumendi, Trey Huntley and the housecat each take turns being the leader in this feisty but not aggressive battle of the sexes, with intimate and witty moments that suggest this film may be able to hold its own at a general film festival, outside the bounds of dance.
Ballet is more than The Nutcracker and has in some ways melded with the creativity offered by Modern Dance and has grown into the guise of contemporary ballet. “The Form of Things” began under a pale light. Two centers of action immediately became apparent, one being the purposeful duet between Matthew Baird and Katrina Blose with the other subplot involving three female dancers. Metcalf balanced the two story lines, with movements complementary but not always reflective, by sometimes facing the momentarily less important dancers to the wall, thereby allowing the viewer to make out the point Ms. Metcalf was making with her choreography.
The next piece, obscurely titled “I. II. II. IV” was much more playful than it appeared to be on the program, which curiously listed the running length of each piece as a sign that Ms. Metcalf seems to enjoy the controlled science of dance. This piece was the opposite of control. Starting with a female cast clad in 19th century style plain gowns, the dancers imitated old-fashioned games such as holding hands and spinning and at other times acting a tad more gracefully, by carefully balancing with each other until the childish part awoke and one player would kick their leg over the body of another.
More somber and romantic, the dancers began “Words and Deeds” with their backs to the audience. Originally premiered last November and I must admit that I enjoyed this performance more than the first time I saw it. Whether the choreography has changed or if it is a subjective feeling, this long duet between Erin Fitzgerald and again Matthew Baird seemed to encapsulate the feeling in most relationships, that of a constant push and pull between the two halves. Yet despite the man’s substantially larger physique, as many of us know, it was his female companion who controlled most of the action in this steadily paced and slightly sexy work.
Dance is not always simply about creating transitory beauty for the audience; often there are political or aesthetic challenges in the art form. After intermission, the next two pieces certainly went in this direction. “Oraculum” is an inventive concept piece that might not have landed entirely on its feet. Shannon Farrell performs this in solo, or perhaps that is not true: she performs alongside the prerecorded version of herself dancing the same piece. This allowed for some neat tricks, such as a live performer starting a movement that can only be seen completed by sliding your eye to the screen, as well as enriching the emotional impact by the use of close-ups of her face while she performs. Unfortunately the dance itself was not downbeat or emotionally raw enough to warrant the use of some dark and intense musical work by Trent Reznor.
Saving the best for last is not always easy, but for as far as my tastes are concerned, Ms. Metcalf did just this. “Touch and Go” was challenging yet fun, which is my preference in the art. The scene begins with arms outstretched from the side curtains and a few dancers trying to pull them out with them deeper into the stage. Sliding through movements smoothly while still showing that force was being used, eventually all of the dancers formed a snaking chain that wound itself around. Jarring music and a makeup and costuming scheme that would have felt right at home at the best New Wave parties circa 1982 added to the otherworldly vibe. At times the group would break into seemingly independent interactions with one another of a not overly soft nature, but ultimately the themes converged into unison.
After this piece the lights turned on and a reception was offered outside. Bottles of wine had been procured yet with no corkscrew, or that is until my Swiss Army knife was employed. Virtually every seat was sold out as Greensboro welcomed home an artist and her theatre company.