SAMANTHA SPEIS/MARJANI A. FORTE/KYLE ABARAHAM
March 26, 2012
A woman’s body rolls and twists inward and out on the illuminated altar, slowly making her
way down the stairs. The floor before her is strewn with articles of clothing, transforming into a
Samantha Speis’ The Way it Was, and Now (First Rendition) is an incredible pairing of Speis’
intensely driven movement with the echoing reactive hum of the live sound accompaniment
composed and performed by Val Jeanty. Before long, Speis makes it her mission to put on every
item of clothing under the square block of light downstage with a primal energy encompassing
each move. Her body caged in layers of clothes, shoots to the ground, sliding and pushing the
remaining clothes in a pile.
Marjani A. Forte’s work, Here…takes us into an extremely specific, war-zone area. Within
seconds, dancer Tara Lee Burns’ vivid facial expressions – wide, shifting eyes, a quivering smile
that suddenly falls flat – consume our attention, making her technically athletic movement even
more appealing. An electric guitar version of the “Star Spangled Banner” grows in the speakers
as Kevin Joseph, dressed as a soldier rises and two other female dancers join them in the space, a
twitching pulse behind their sweeping moves. A sense of unrest continues as they run to seats in
the audience and stare around, as if anyone could potentially be the enemy.
The seventy minute program at Danspace closes with Kyle Abraham’s, Boyz N’ The Hood: Pavement.
Abraham’s opening solo of soft lyrical movement has a warmth to it and he smiles as another
male joins him, though the mood shifts when a third comes on wrapping his arms around their
necks one at a time, quietly bringing them to the ground. On their stomachs, their hands resting
on their lower back – this image reappears throughout, sometimes giving the sense of forcible
submission, other times, of safety and even solidarity.
As more dancers enter they begin a sequence of hypnotic running, their pace and rhythm flowing
from one to the next, all remaining in sync with one another. The musical accompaniment
is suddenly the sounds of children’s conversation about a drive by shooting, the shot and car
wheels screeching included. The ugly and depressing content is paired with ironically beautiful
balletic movement; the dancers have a serene look on their faces. Returning to the floor, they pile
on each other, forming stacks of bodies, then rearranging, until all are at rest.
The collection of three of the youngest African American artists presented in this
Danspace Platform 2012: Parallels Project is truly a fresh evening of dance.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jennifer Thompson