The Color Palate of Dance
Kaleena Miller Dance Company – SHIFT
The Southern Theater, Minneapolis
June 22-25, 2017
Day/ Performance 4
BLACK & WHITE
Black and white. Dark and light. Yin and Yang. But combined makes gray. Collaborative, cool, dark yet lighter than black.
Today’s performance brought a non-solid color to the stage. Beautiful black and white geometric style printed shirts and black shorts. I love black and white. It’s probably the most “color” I have in my wardrobe and I just happened to wear a black and white dress to the show. It’s classy, yet fun, playful but modern. However, this change in wardrobe brought us from solid colors to a combination. Once again, I’m not sure Kaleena had a vision for the wardrobe changes (I would guess YES?), but going from the stark, serious white to pink then red onto a playful black and white combo was perfect This was performance 4; the last show. My assumption was that most, if not all the dancers, would be pulling out all the stops today. Why not? The choreography was so extraordinary. If you know it, go for it. Whether it was over the top technical feats (Galen), more triple steps (Bruce) or creative facial expressions (Everyone), this show had it all.
This afternoon’s performance was a commissioned, pre-recorded piece from Reid Anderson. A little bird told me it was the company’s practice music so they knew it very well. Would this lead to even more surprises? There are two that stand out for me. One was the Kaleena and Galen duet which had music for the first time. I mentioned this before, but the addition of music to what once was an acapella piece transforms it into another dimension. This is not to say either version was better than the other, but to this music fanatic, being able to watch how dancers interpret music into their dance is magical. No matter how well you know your choreography, the right music will bring it to another plane. Kaleena and Galen HAD FUN during their time to shine. They were laughing almost the entire time and the crowd was right along with them. Sitting in the front row (yet again) was out of this world. It’s like being able to sit in on a private conversation without the couple knowing you’re there. But it’s not awkward, creepy or weird. It’s more about people-watching and seeing if you can interpret what each is saying only by body language. These two have that part mastered and I was honored to witness it.
The second surprise was an addition. In the first half of the show when the entire company is in a line doing the same choreography, each dancer had been taking a short 4 count solo and then moved back into line. In today’s performance, each dancer walked towards the audience, stopped for a second and walked back into line. It was a quick but somewhat intense moment. Most did not smile, so it was up to us to determine what the emotion was (or lack thereof) as they returned to the line. Having been there the other 3 nights, this to me was almost a thank you without the bow. But, it was also deliberate and meant to make you look at them AS INDIVIDUALS. Every dancer so unique but part of the whole—Gray.
After that small change, it hit me that we were heading towards the crescendo. The last dance of the night, the highlight, the finale. I couldn’t help but sit and compare each show to the other, trying to figure out which one was “best.” But I luckily stopped the comparisons to stay present. It’s tough to watch 7 people dance at the same time, especially from where I was sitting, but as the minutes wore down to the final number it was all I could do. The freedom and intensity—both of which were present in that last number. You could see the bittersweet smiles on each of their faces as they danced so beautifully so intently. I didn’t want it to end.
Unfortunately for all of us in that small theatre at The Southern, this run of performances had to come to completion, but we weren’t letting the company leave without a roaring standing ovation. I could tell the dancers were so proud, so happy. And as the other 6 pointed at Kaleena to make sure she got extra kudos, that smile of hers couldn’t get any bigger. This was AWESOME. Art had come alive.
Even after a week of writing my thoughts here, I’m still left with so many emotions. Honored that I witnessed this stunning performance, humbled that I was in the presence of master dancers performing only feet from where I was sitting, inspired to continue my quest to become a dancer and beyond proud of these 7 ordinary people who have an extraordinary gift. They are Dancers; Dance is who they are.
Dancing is part of my soul and over this last year I was lucky enough to unearth it and tap into it again after so many years. I had been searching and yearning for something I couldn’t put my finger on until recently when I participated in my first formal dance recital. After seeing these chosen 7 dance, it became more real to me what dance is. It’s not just something to sit and watch or to ogle over. It’s not something that is easy or hard. It’s part of who we are as human beings. We all may not be master tappers, but hopefully we can all move, sway, or just close our eyes and FEEL.
Thank you, Bruce, Galen, Megan, Noah, Madelyn, Audrey and, of course, Kaleena Miller. For without you, I wouldn’t be writing these words, seeing magic and feeling so much love. I believe in being at the right place at the right time. That the universe gives you things when you are ready. I was ready; you all were ready.
THIS was SHIFT.