The Color Palate of Dance
Kaleena Miller Dance Company – SHIFT
The Southern Theater, Minneapolis
June 22-25, 2017
Night two I arrived with my daughter. Excited, no nerves this time and feeling deeply connected to the dancers after meeting a few of them the night before. We chatted, they told stories, we laughed and hugged. As I’m writing this, I realize that I’ve never had this experience before. Six out of the seven dancers didn’t even know me, yet, when we connected to say hello, there was a bond already present. Was it me? Them? How is this possible? Just thinking about it leaves me a bit perplexed, but the only sense I can make of it is that we were all REAL, true to ourselves and happy. The night’s show was over. It was time to celebrate, make new friends and enjoy the wave of joy and connectedness that got created in less than an hour. It takes a special kind of something for that to happen.
The dancers are just like any one of us, though. They have friends and family who are proud and love them, they work hard, they do what they can to make their life work personally and professionally. But, one major thing makes them extremely unique and different from us—they DANCE. And not just dance, they TAP. It’s who they are and they have no other choice but to. That difference doesn’t matter, though, when the tap shoes are off and the performance is over. We are all just lovers of art, dance, music and the excitement of smashing them all together to create something brand new, something that inspires.
Night Two brought a new energy and a shift in hue—Blush. The definition is “a slight red or pink color.” If we want to get less technical, we can say Pink which is “of a color intermediate between red and white.” Does this mean Night Three is Red? I won’t dare guess. From the audience though, I admit I couldn’t tell what the exact color was (pink, tan, khaki?), but it was obvious it wasn’t white, and I believe, that’s what mattered. Subtle changes can make a major difference. But, with the energy shift from opening night intensity to more of tonight’s chill vibe, this made sense. These changes continue to have me intrigued with Kaleena’s thoughts and “story” around this performance. I tend to always ask: “But what does it all MEAN?!” when it comes to art, but right after I say that, I know what the answer is—it means whatever you want it to mean. It’s art; let it speak to you. So I did.
I have no idea what the crowd numbers were on Night One, but there were barely any seats left once the lights came up tonight. The audience also created an energy that turned electric rather quickly. Within the first few minutes, claps started for each dancer’s intro, hoots were made when a solo was nailed. This allowed the dancers to then continue with that energy, enjoy dancing, let go and take some liberties with their improv. Was this really the same routine from last night? I checked myself as I kept thinking something got added, but I was wrong. This is exactly what art creates. New energy, a change in music, letting go of the nerves and creating something unique. Trying to explain to you, the reader, what that even means to me is impossible thru words. All I know is that I’m blessed with what I’m seeing, feeling and experiencing with this show.
It’s hard to say whether I enjoyed tonight’s show “more” than last night as it was so different (and no, the choreography didn’t change!) and when you switch the music to Leah Ottman with her violin of layered sounds and looping pedals, it’s unfair to even compare. I did ask most of the dancers what their experience was in relation to the night before. The consensus was that they were “looser, sweatier and had more fun.” Because the music from Night One was all over the map, as I mentioned, the dancers had to be their own metronome. NOT EASY. Between opening night jitters and an avant-garde type of music that has a dancer constantly thinking, listening and watching, it’s understandable how tonight’s show brought a bit of color back to the dancer’s steps.
Awe. Inspiration. Joy. Play.
THIS was night two of SHIFT.