BY SUSAN BROILI
On this frigid, extremely windy, full-moon night (Friday, March 2), the glowing windows of Threehouse Studios served as a beacon for the first-ever Durham Independent Dance Artists’ presentation of a shared program in Durham, NC.
(Threehouse Studios, formed by dancer/choreographer Courtney OM (Owen-Muir); singer/songwriter Autumn Nicholas; and Josephine McCrann, aims to serve as a center for movement and creativity as well as yoga and conditioning. A recent music open mic night drew 100 people. For more information on classes, events, visit www.3HStudios.com).)
On this particular Friday, the street-level interior of the structure that houses Threehouse Studios seemed magical due to the square windows’ thick, prismatic glass that radiated with the lights of cars on the nearby one-way street and cast these reflections on the mirror-covered opposite wall. Candles, clustered around posts, added to the atmosphere.
Unlike traditional theater spaces where performers enter from the wings, “Loam” creator/performer Cara Hagan waited outside – as in outside of this building – before making her entrance as she stepped over the door sill to make the Durham debut of the solo she has described as an exploration of “the relationship between the human body and soil.”
Hagan’s movements were certainly grounded and also exhibited her strength, balance and flexibility. These attributes also enabled her to defy gravity such as when, feet planted, she extended her buttocks far out to the left while at the same time thrusting her straight arms far out in front of her, which served as a counter-weight that, no doubt, helped keep her from falling.
Another time, as we heard the sounds of tree frogs, Hagan’s body position resembled a frog’s as she assumed an extremely wide stance, feet turned out, knees raised very high, torso sunk down. (Do not try this at home).
“Loam” ended with Hagan’s big exhalation as she fell to the floor and assumed a fetal position as though at last one with the soil.
After intermission, the three women performers of Paideia began their performance of “Untitled” in a corner far from most of the audience seating. While obstructed sight lines from this seating made it difficult to discern what was happening, the trio’s actions could clearly be seen when they moved from that area to in front of the door. There, they pushed and shoved each other to the floor. One woman collapsed face-down and shied away from being touched by another.
Things revved up sound-wise as a performer appeared from behind a round, metal apparatus and with her hands repeatedly scooped up from the floor a variety of metal objects that included chains. Then, the initial, pleasant, jingling sounds of these objects reached ear-piercing levels perhaps as a result of that metal apparatus’ recording and amplification of the initial handling.
Judging by what came next, this incredibly loud noise could have been meant to have a cathartic effect and make viewers more receptive/ready for the meditative ending when performers sang beautiful, soothing sounds as they sat on their legs. Then, two of the women rose – one with a bell, the other with wind chimes- and began to gently ring these instruments. The other performer, still seated on the floor, raised her hand that held a bell and one of the standing women held her wrist and moved it so the bell rang. Then, these silvery sounds slowed to a tinkling for a contemplative ending to this work.