KINESIS PROJECT DANCE THEATRE
June 15, 2012
Just in time for the summer wedding season when weekends suddenly become
filled with ceremonies, receptions and gift registries, Kinesis Project Dance Theatre
presents Melissa Riker’s “Pressing Empty” at Dancespace Project. This charming
evening-length work explores love, emptiness and the emotions that bubble to the
surface when the sea of sequins and tulle is put aside and the bride is alone.
Radiating the nervous energy of the expectant bride, Riker appears in a full-length
wedding gown to thank the audience for coming—to the show or to the wedding?
—and to reassure us that she’s so glad we’re all here. Riker later makes the rounds
of the seating area, sitting on people’s laps, asking somebody to feel her arm
muscle and climbing over chairs as she explains that she is working on becoming a
better listener, all the while keeping up a constant stream of chatter that indicates
Riker is joined by six dancers—four women and two men—who appear in partial
states of dress, slowly taking their time to consider and approach putting on their
own wedding finery. As the final adjustments are made, the dancers begin to pair
off, standing with their arms laced behind each other’s backs. In a recurring theme,
the pairs begin by extending their legs outward and then folding them back in to
launch into a swift backward jog to carry them across the space.
Once across, the
pairs sweep their legs side to side, stepping across their partner, before one partner
is carried on the other’s hip to land on the opposite side, always interlaced and
ready to move again. Much of the movement has a dreamy, drifting quality that
makes the dancers appear as if they are floating across the space, especially in
moments where they hold their arms as if waltzing with an invisible partner.
steps seem natural and comfortable to execute, and the repetition of much of the
movement encourages a meditative state. Only later in the piece is there
any change in dynamic as the brides reject putting on the veils and get increasingly
panicked about being in their wedding clothes.
Near the end of the piece the group is clustered together, their arms folded across
their chests as they wade through a sea of tulle. Their faces show resignation to the
commitment of marriage, yet one by one they try to escape before the group catches
them and brings them back. One of the men almost succeeds by casually slipping out
the back of the group while everybody else is distracted trying to reclaim another
escapee. His second attempt is more desperate as he resorts to hiding behind some
of the balls of tulle scattered around the floor, prompting a hearty laugh from the
Although the work could certainly be tightened by at least twenty minutes, the
dancers remain genuinely committed throughout and exhibit an ease with each
other that truly makes one feel as if they are watching real relationships develop.
The dancers have a refreshingly natural sense of playfulness, which elevates the
simple movement and brings levity and humor to the work.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Jessica Moore