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Uplifting This Body

This Body Shows Up (virtual showcase)
7 & 8 March 2021*
*(videos may be viewed online through 8 April 2021)

Review by Brendan McCall

Truly, there is strength in numbers. Initiated by five performing artists based in New York–Nadia Hannan, Alessia Panti, Sara Roer, Diane Tomasi, and Marcie Yoselevsky–This Body is a dynamic and resilient expression of pooling creative resources, and of how a collective can uplift each individual.

This past weekend, the group presented This Body Shows Up, a showcase of short movement and dance films amplifying the work of queer/women/non-binary/BiPOC performing artists. Created during this past year of quarantine and social isolation during the global coronavirus pandemic, This Body Shows Up framed a delightfully diverse field of invention, ingenuity, and imagination.

Things Are Not Fine – how have you been? by guest artist Gabriel Bruno Eng Gonzalez is a kind of virtual collage of solo performance, lip-syncing, and multiple social media platforms. Constantly moving on one´s screen like a series of video-cards in continuous flux, the piece rides waves of gender-fluidity, with art, self-expression, and the internet serving as compasses.

Sara Roer´s emotionally eloquent Holding (me) refracts images of women isolated in multiple different interior spaces. Through editing, sometimes it appears that their partner could be touched through the wall through their gestures. The contrast between the sensual phrases of movement against the unforgiving walls of these apartments breaks one´s heart.

Abrupt silences and changing landscapes punctuate the unpredictability of Vanish, a solo created and performed by guest artist Maya Lam. Whether on a rooftop, in a park, or concealed in a bag, her surroundings feel oppressively empty, as if her dance is a forgotten scrap of imagination emerging from the environment.

Marcie Yoselevsky´s Capsule relishes line, form, shape. Five dancers in various squares athletically execute phrases to a percussive, repetitive rhythm, sometimes overlapping into unison, sometimes diverging into solos and duets. Through the accumulation of the work, one can see how the phrase is interpreted in various bodies, as well as notice the surroundings of each dancer–a living room, an attic, a studio.

Out of the Folds of Women, created and performed by guest artist Anabella Lenzu, immediately confronts the perception of the viewer. In addition to being shot in black/white, there is always an object occluding a clear view of her body in movement–a semi-transparent curtain, or a glass distorting her face.

When Philadelphia-based Sophiann Mahalia´s trio The Reclamation Dance Project begins, it is an immediate celebration of the fierceness of Black women. In vivid color and playful power, her dancers sensually move with authority in various outdoor locations in a piece that heralds so much more yet to come.

In some ways, Diane Tomasi´s Still is a coda to Roer´s Holding (me), as movement-passages are recycled and recontextualized. The soundscape is an ode to grief and resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic in New York City, particularly those uncertain early days: Tomasi combines ambulance sirens, the clanging of pots for first-responders, and news clips with her own phone calls with her friends and colleagues to rehearse, move, create.

Performance-based art-making can sometimes feel like crawling uphill, particularly within the horrific context of a series of policy failures in response to a global health crisis. The title of this showcase is purposeful, and perfectly appropriate. This Body Shows Up shines a light on artists who are multifaceted and multi-skilled. In addition to being choreographers and dancers, they are editors, composers, filmmakers. Perhaps some of them already possessed these skills during “the before times”, but the immediacy of these online pieces, the rawness and vulnerability contained within each of them, is palpable. Each piece is an urgent cry speaking through the screen and into the silence of our own still-quarantined bodies at home.

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