‘Liquid Backbone, Cape Ann’: Dance movie

Cape Ann, Massachusetts.
Streaming by way of Vimeo.

Within the waning phases of the COVID-19 pandemic, the dance world – identical to the world at giant – is juggling many dynamics up within the air. Dance artists are exploring tips on how to carry ahead the (in some ways compulsory) deep-dives into dance movie that they did over the previous two-plus years. Many are additionally more and more drawn to discover themes of social impression of their work — in methods which might be creatively nurturing, resonant with audiences and lasting. 

Liquid Backbone, Cape Ann, a brief environmentally-focused dance movie, confirmed a probably fairly fruitful path ahead in balancing these dynamics particularly (of the various that the dance world is presently juggling) – in social impression dance movie that’s each nice artwork and successfully underscores an necessary message.

For one, the work saved sincere human feeling at its root – but feeling that stopped wanting melodrama. For 2, it labored by a delightful “much less is extra” ethos – permitting what it was to be sufficient, shining by in its personal means. It stood for example of how dance artwork can transfer us ahead, amidst all the challenges that we face, with honesty and coronary heart. Katie Pustizzi contributed choreography and movie course.

The movie opens on two dancers – Keegan Scesny and Lonnie Anela O’kalani Neff Stanton – transferring collectively in water. Past them lies rocky shoreline and towering pines – all below cloudless, infinite sky. Generally submerged, typically rising, they undulate as fluidly because the water round them. 

Simply as creatures greater than at dwelling in water, but distinct from it, they’re in full concord with one another and their environment – but in addition autonomous. They embody stability between independence and connection. The rating, as all through the work, equally brings collectively diverging qualities, to pleasing impact; it sharpens the emotional valence at hand, but in addition leaves area for viewers to paint of their personal traces of feeling. 

A notable shift comes after they see a plastic water bottle floating towards them (combined media artwork by Rubbish Gal). They stare upon it, nearly perplexed – reflecting an innocence in direction of the hurt in direction of their world that it represents. On the similar time, one thing protecting arises from inside them; they push the bottle away. Then enters an excellent deal extra of that threatening, if mysterious substance seemingly so alien to them: one other dancer (Meredith Value) caught and surrounded by plastic and different remnants of human consumption. 

Value struggles to remain afloat, her motions of swimming constrained by varied bottles and baggage entwining her limbs. One can see right here the common and timeless wrestle – and will – to outlive. A internet holds a lot of the waste on her: reminiscing ocean wildlife caught in careless human nets. She is expressionless; has she misplaced hope? Like a creature in a combat for its life, have all features shut down aside from these which contribute to that combat? 

Gradual-motion videography has me intrigued, as a artistic selection. In a means, it helps construct emotional resonance by permitting sure moments to linger – like a bell rung by a quiet metropolis sq..

One other chapter on this quick story begins when the three dancers step unto land. Scesny and Neff Stanton help Value, strolling along with her on both aspect and holding both of her arms. 

At this level, I additionally discover potential that means inside costumes. Neff Stanton and Scesny put on muted earth tones, in tunic-like attire — malleable clean slates of shade and feeling, malleable as they’re in motion and emotion all through the work. Value, nonetheless, wears extra shade and definitive cuts: a drive of extra fixed willpower and resolve because the movie progresses. 

Resolve and willpower certainly; with each mind and brawn, mind and bodily energy, she frees herself from the plastic surrounding her as she stands tall and proud on the shoreline. She sheds each weight and bodily limitation. The 2 others stand by, in stillness but in addition a presence of distinct intention – appearing as protectors. With a delicate, but notable construct within the rating, this feels just like the kind of victory (smaller or bigger, all thought-about) that brings rays of hope. There will be small victories whereas there’s nonetheless work to do. 

In unstated mutual understanding, the three movers be a part of to assault that work left to do. Whereas Neff Stanton and Scesny’s personas had been beforehand harmless onlookers, looking for understanding of one thing coming their means that had been so very overseas to them, a brand new fireplace of company appears to burn in them now. That stated, the performers keep away from giving off something too heavy-handed or neatly spelled-out – so viewers can’t actually know the precise nature of their ideas and emotions. That kind of thriller and abstraction will be one of the vital thrilling issues about modern dance.

With that new resolve, and Value newly free of her plastic chains, they head again into the ocean. Once more becoming a member of mind and brawn, they work collectively to assemble floating trash. Via aggregation, their efforts appear to change into greater than the sum of their components. Even with their vitality honed on conducting a concrete activity, their motion stays harmonious and aqueous. They form shift round one another, the supplies they’re gathering and one another – like jellyfish however with bones to help and defend the softer constructions of their bodily being.

In an impactful picture towards the tip, the three girls stroll out of the ocean with the trash that they’ve gathered. To nice impact, Pustizzi’s videography presents a number of such resonant photos all through the movie. They’re unified however impartial, joined in mission and understanding but additionally ruled by nobody’s will however their very own. The digicam then pans towards the indescribably huge sky — previous sand, ocean and majestic evergreens.

Seen with sure eyes, that limitless sky might maintain hope; regardless of all that we face, are our potentialities additionally boundless? With honesty, authenticity and remembering that much less will be so, a lot extra, simply possibly they’re. Works like Liquid Backbone, Cape Ann can shine a light-weight down such a path, a path that might be simply the one we want. 

To look at Liquid Backbone, Cape Ann, click on right here.

By Kathryn Boland of Dance Informa.