Kate Weare Company’s 10th Anniversary Season at BAM Fisher
For Kate Weare Company’s 10th Anniversary season, we looked back at earlier work as well as forward to what’s to come. As Weare mentions in the program, relationships are central to her work; the whole first half of the show consisted of excerpted duets from longer works. Sitting in the front row of the intimate BAM Fisher space, I was highly tuned in to the dancers in front of me – nearly a part of their relationships. I am less familiar with Kate Weare’s work, my main exposure to her company being her participation in Tisch Dance Summer Workshop two years ago. What I was intrigued by in working with her and her dancers that summer was her movement quality that bridged a very physical, nearly violent place and a tender one.
Her BAM show featured excerpts of full pieces; since I didn’t have access to the wider context for each piece, the excerpts became their own entities, and seeing them side-by-side made the similarities between them more apparent. A pair of 5-minute duets seem to tend to have more in common than a pair of thirty-minute works. In watching this selection of works, I particularly noticed how strongly maturity came across on stage, most palpably in an excerpt from Bridge of Sighs, the first duet of the program. Leslie Kraus and Douglas Gillespie’s immense maturity allowed them to interact on stage with great specificity. While I’m sure this quality comes from working with Kate Weare since 2006 and 2007, respectively, it is of course something that develops naturally with age. Something I’ve noticed in watching dancers of many different ages perform is that age brings a sense of selflessness that youth often overruns. Kraus and Gillespie were able to bring themselves fully into the work; they didn’t become ‘performers’ but remained wholly themselves.
As the four duets progressed, I also became aware of the conflict they each contain between violence and intimacy. In the duet from Bridge of Sighs I was shocked and delighted by these qualities; besides Kraus and Gillespie’s ability to embody this conflict, the choreography produced it effortlessly and ingeniously. In Volver, a premiere and duet between two men (Gillespie and T.J. Spaur), the combativeness of Weare’s work was extracted and the audience was left with a waltz of sorts between the dancers, who interacted gently accompanied by a boom box. This work made me consider whether it is possible to have a duet that does not forefront intimacy. Perhaps it is my personal lens that I tend to see the tension of relationships while watching two people interact on stage or perhaps it is actually inherent to the duet form. It is difficult to see two bodies moving in space harmoniously, combatively, or in discordance and not see some form of intimacy. To me this suggests that a choreographer of duets must be constantly working to provide new tension and discover new ways of bringing two people into interaction.
Volver was a refreshing change in the program because it held an entirely different tone than the violent passion of the two duets before it (Bridge of Sighs and Drop Down), but also because of its male-male casting, which offered new information to Weare’s duet form. I found myself thinking of the very few female-female duets I’ve seen, not that they don’t exist; but the passion and intimacy that is present, common, and accepted in male-male and female-male duets is something I have rarely if ever seen between two women. The women in this show displayed less tenderness than the men (an interesting twist on stereotypical roles), yet I am curious about why we never saw the two women dance together, and why this feels fairly consistent with my own experience. As a dancer about to enter the professional world, I often notice more opportunities for men, not only in terms of company positions (to be expected, as male dancers are scarcer than female dancers), but even within choreographed works. In this show there happened to be more roles for men (in addition to Volver, Weare premiered Unstuck, a trio featuring one woman and two men), which I do not suggest was an active choice, but is something I’m becoming attuned to while auditioning and while my friends seek opportunities outside of school.
Hannah Cullen is a New York-based dancer, choreographer, and writer and will be graduating in 2015 with a BFA in Dance from NYU Tisch School of The Arts. She was a founding member of the collaborative company Young Dance Collective and continues to work with and teach YDC’s second generation. Hannah is interested in making socially engaged, activist work that uses poetry and movement to incite thinking and connect with communities.