Dance as Transcendence

NW Dance Project 10th Anniversary Performance begins with a piece entitled, “State of Matter.” As the title suggests, this work explores the melancholy beauty held in the contemplation of human impermanence. Dancers seem to melt and move into one another while spoken word implores the viewer to contemplate the transient nature of existence, ever altering “like water.” Bodies follow the storyline of rise and recede, spilling into spaces that no one person can claim as theirs alone.

Echoes of this theme ring within each performance… Pause and we find ourselves in “A Fine Balance.” The lights flicker between darkness and pale illumination and with each introduction of light two dancers find themselves in a new physical position, seemly unaware of how or why their relationship has altered. We witness a wrenching dance of pulling in and out, the couple grasping to be pushed away, both unaware of and broken by each others behavior. Time has her own agenda and moves despite our inability to cherish her precious gifts.

My favorite piece, “After the Shake,” is a kinesthetically poetic exploration of a community who, as an act of devotion, reject earthly and impermanent gifts in favor of the opportunity to commune with the omnipresent divine. This is a force which gains complete access to the physical form, driving each performer to tremble and throb with ecstatic power. There is a mass of rumbling arms and bodies heralding mysterious transformation. Rather than dancer, singular, there is a congregation taking the form of natural phenomena–rain trapped in early spring clouds ripe to burst. Time becomes superfluous when access to the All-Pervading is gained.

Personal interpretation is a matter of the individual, of course, and I’m no exception. Perhaps it is the nature of numbers like ‘ten’ and words such as ‘anniversary’ that force us to reflect upon the sacred and tenuous nature of connection, some we embrace, some we can’t let go (no matter how often we push them away) and others that allow the possibility of transcendence.

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