THE INTIMATE SPACE allows focus on
“All Feet Left,” the month-long collaboration currently at Firehouse 13, includes dance, theater, live music, and visual art, and the centerpiece of it all is DoubleShift Dance Thea-tre’s presentation of Walk Away (through June 21). The program features six dance pieces and a short essay written and read by Phyllis Trelli about the transformation of the Ameri-can mini-van.
DoubleShift’s co-directors Nikki Carrara and Peter Deffet have worked together on many dance projects, both here and in Boston. This is the first evening-length outing for their company, and they both contribute to the choreography, costumes, and performance. Live music for two of the pieces is by Kevin Fallon, Paul Dube, Matthew Jason, and Matt Haynie.
One of those is the title piece, Walk Away. However, it is the text that is most memorable, both the story of a young boy as an outsider and the recitation of a fractured version of the 23rd Psalm, with lines such as “in good’s name, I can do good” and “peace and patience be my partners.” The movement sometimes reflects the boy’s turmoil or the solemnity of the psalm, but at other times it mirrors the playfulness and joy in the words being spoken.
At one point, there is a stylized square dance, all leaps and whooping arms. The more contemplative sections have two female couples partnering (Linda Ford, Leigh Hendrix, Marissa Molinar, and Abby Saunders) or three dancers standing over three others (including Carrara and Deffet), almost as if the upright dancers are sheltering trees. Does the title refer to an escape into nature, a connection with the earth (slapping the ground and rubbing a hand across one’s mouth), in order to cope with the humiliations of daily life?
The second piece, 1 in 10, is another take on the issue. A solo premiered by Deffet, it is set to one of Franz Schubert’s songs, Die Nebensonnen. The lyrics refer to the eyes of a beloved as two suns that no longer gaze back at the narrator, leaving him in darkness. Deffet stands in a spotlight, his head thrown back, his mouth open in anguish. One arm forms a ballet pose, but the other hand slaps it down; one shoulder is scrunched up to his ear and then lowered; his ragged breathing is audible, punctuating the internal struggle that the move-ment outlines.
The mood shifts dramatically with Carrarra’s Patch Play, with a trio of female dancers, set to selections from Beethoven’s Quartet for Piano and String Trio, This piece is a bright, cheerful interplay of the three dancers, all hops, skips, swirls, and smiles.
Distilled Verse 3: They Want Me to Remember is part of a longer work by choreographer Melody Ruffin Ward. Carrara and Deffet dance to recordings of Gullah tales and family stories. They portray two frisky kids who tease and tussle, finger-point and fisticuff, scoop up dirt to rub their bare feet in, and take turns getting wet in a washtub half-filled with water. The mime and movement effortlessly match the mood of the text.
Two more dances, plus Trelli’s reading, comprise the second half of the program. Sophisticated Lady, to Ellington’s music, features Deffet and Carrara in spiffy black and white outfits, re-creating and lovingly spoofing an Astaire/Rogers-style duet.