BY SUSAN BROILI
An American Dance Festival audience had a decision to make before the 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, (2018) performance of “Dearest Home” by Kyle Abraham’s Abraham.In.Motion (A.I.M.).
Seated in the Rubenstein Arts Center’s intimate theater, we had two choices: to watch and listen to music delivered through a head set or watch in silence. ADF director Jodee Nimerichter cautioned those who opted for the music to make sure no sounds leaked out. That’s because dancers had learned Abraham’s 2017 60-minute work in silence and have continued to perform it that way.
I chose silence because of the new experience it offered and also because I felt stressed due to having to hunt for a parking place and then scrambling to get to the performance in time.
Turns out that the silence helped me feel calmer and, at the same time, my senses were heightened. In that state, the rhythms of dancers’ movements created a music all their own as they expressed love, loss and longing – themes Kyle Abraham said, in a program note, that he had chosen for “Dearest Home” because “these themes have the capacity to heal and bring people together.”
Abraham added, in his program note, that he had not known that, after announcing the world premier date of “Dearest Home,” that during the ensuing year , …“ I would lose my mother … or end a relationship with the man I thought I would marry.”
Having arrived to this performance in the nick of time, I had no time to read that program note then. I did, after seeing the performance, start to think of what the title “Dearest Home” evoked for me – that in a loving relationship, there’s a feeling of being in a safe harbor, of being home.
The cast that included Raleigh native Kayla Farrish as well as Tamisha Guy, Catherine Ellis Kirk, Marcella Lewis, Matthew Baker and Jeremy “Jae” Neal, communicated their roles not only with movement but also through facial expressions and gestures.
Those roles revolved around looking for love whether it be between two men, two women and a woman and a man. Interactions were sometimes playful or intense or erotic.
At one point, as the two men vied for one of the women, all three became tangled in a knot of struggle that resulted in Neal’s character winning while Baker’s character, alone, danced out his frustration.
When Baker’s character reappeared near the end of “Dearest Home,” it was clear that he still felt heart-broken as, overcome by sobs, he doubled over. We could still hear his crying after he had left the performance area.
This work ended as Neal, now alone, moved into a very dim spotlight on a dark stage. There, most of his brief movements were obscured by the absence of enough illumination but I did see him get down on one knee and make his exit.