ARTSMONDAY: Strong ‘Levity’ Weighed Down by Inconsistency

Jacqueline J. Genser

The Harvard-Radcliffe Dance Company’s “Levity,” which opened in the Adams House Pool Theatre on Friday, was an evening of intriguing, but at times inaccessible, modern dance. While in some cases the daring and experimental choreography was successful, the caliber of the performance was inconsistent. Nonetheless, one thing was constant: due to the compactness of the theatre and the small size of the company, “Levity,” directed by Tessa Johung ’07 and Julia K. Lindpaintner ’09, was an intimate experience.

The performance began on a good note with “Within You Without You,” choreographed by Elizabeth A. Miller ’09. The piece opened with a ballet-inspired solo by Stephanie H. Lo ’10, who was then joined by Daniela F. Joffe ’10, Sarah F. Schlegel ’10, Sonia K. Todorova ’07, and Bianca A. Verma ’10.

The choreography was both fluid and energetic, making interesting use of the dancers’ bodies and carefully chosen synchronizations and disunities to create geometric shapes. The piece, which ended with Lo being carried off the stage by her fellow dancers, was fresh and effective.

The next piece, “On the Verge,” was an angst-filled solo choreographed and performed by Marin J. D. Orlosky ’07-’08. Orlosky climbed, turned, and achieved some truly acrobatic feats while suspended from two sheaths of cloth hung from the ceiling.

While the difficulty of the choreography was certainly appreciated—at one moment, Orlosky did the splits about nine feet in the air, with one band of cloth wrapped around each ankle—the performance was too studied to be truly enjoyable. Orlosky had some trouble navigating the sheaths of cloth, and these moments of fumbling detracted from the overall performance.

In one of the most enjoyable pieces of the evening, “Duet,” Joffe and Verma expertly executed the sensual choreography of Nell S. Hawley ’10. The duo worked beautifully together, often moving exactly in sync, as if they both belonged to the same body. The choreography, set to the powerful vocal music of 17th-century German composer Heinrich Schutz, made excellent use of the space in between the dancers’ bodies. The ending sequence left a lasting impression as the two girls embraced, before pulling away from each other.

One of the disappointing aspects of the performance was a frequent lack of communication between the dancers and the audience, such as in “Synesthesia,” choreographed by Hawley. However, that piece made good use of two interesting choices for background music: the work of both Shruti Sadolikar Katkar and Johann Sebastian Bach. The choreography featured turn sequences as well as floor work, and created a nice fluidity between different moves.

By far the most daring piece of the night was “Ars Biologica,” choreographed and performed by Shannon B. Maene ’07 and Orlosky. Set to a funky song by Talking Heads, the duet entailed Maene pursuing Orlosky in an animal-like fashion, and involved a lot of jumping around and head bobbing. Although slightly humorous, the piece was at least entertaining and certainly memorable.

“Two,” a duet choreographed by Brenda Divelbliss to a Johnny Cash song, was another example of how “Levity” suffered from a lack of expression or communication. Although James C. Fuller ’10 expertly used his body and facial expressions to converse with his partner, Todorova, as well as with the audience, Todorova wore the same blank expression throughout the piece. This stark difference between the two performers changed the total effect of the piece, overshadowing both the choreography and the dancing.

The last piece, which was entirely improvised, involved the entire company and was both impressive and effective. Dancing to music they had never heard before, the performers were able to create a visually exciting and entertaining piece.

It was interesting to watch the interactions between dancers as they worked in pairs or groups, coming up with surprisingly polished-looking sequences on the spot. Overall, the outstanding moments of the night outweighed the less successful pieces, leaving a positive lasting impression.