AN AMERICANA FIELD TRIP Choreographer Kelly Ann Sloan.
"Everything old is new again" never seems more true than with the evanescent art form of dance. Different performers give dances a fresh look; choreographers get another chance to tweak their creations; audience members notice things they didn't the first time around. Thus, Island Moving Co. artistic director Miki Ohlsen is presenting her 2001 piece, Deconstructing Cole Porter, and a 2007 work by Colin Connor, The Fragile Warmth of Collisions in Free Fall, as part of a program titled Passions Collide — Dances About Connectivity, through May 23 at the Great Meeting House in Newport. In addition, two pieces by company member Michael Bolger and Los Angeles-based choreographer Kelly Ann Sloan will be premiered.
The show opens with the Porter piece, originally commissioned for a centennial gala at the Elms and repeated at Rosecliff's centennial because it' is rumored that Porter wrote some of his songs there. "Night and Day" opens with four couples swaying to the hypnotic "like the beat, beat, beat of the tom, tom." As the title lyric swings in, so do they, in long-limbed poses and movements that swirl the women across and even down onto the floor, an elegant blend of ballet and ballroom.
"Why Can't You Behave," "All of You," "Get Out of Town," and "Everytime We Say Goodbye" offer plenty of dramatic interpretation by the pairs of dancers who perform each duet. In the first, Lilia Ortola strokes her arms and shoulders, as if in comfort for the betrayal of her lover. Gregg Saulnier, for his part, falls before her in apology, but she will have none of it. "All of You," with Michael Bolger and Meredith Baer, is more upbeat: playful and flirtatious.
Another bittersweet pas de deux is "Get Out of Town," with that urgent sense of push-pull between lovers portrayed by Mark Harootian and Christine Sandorfi. For "Goodbye," David DuBois and Danielle Genest are more melancholy, sadness evident in every gesture and pose. She ruffles her hair with her fingers; she reaches out for her lover, but he slips away.
The closing movement brings the four couples back for "It Was Just One of Those Things." The male dancers lift the female dancers onto their shoulders, hold them under their arms for a close-to-the-floor whirl, and pass them around their bodies onto the floor. The whole dance is absolutely breathtaking, with the women in gem colors of silver, blue, green, and purple and the men in matching T-shirts.
Next up is Kelly Ann Sloan's Field Trip, set to banjo/bass duets by Bela Fleck and Edgar Meyer and the cross-genre group Project. Coming from California, Sloan was impressed by the historic nature of the Great Meeting House and wanted to project an Americana mood as well as showing what school kids might do on a field trip.
Both are visible throughout the dance. The first movement has the dancers skipping, bobbing heads in and out of the bus lineup, and circling each other in square dance-like configurations. In the second, the "girls" look "too cool for school": sashaying, swaying butts, swinging arms, twisting feet, and nudging shoulders. The third movement, a pas de deux with DuBois and Genest, has hand gestures of rock-paper-scissors, hula-hoop hip-swivels, a lot of shoulder-shaking and teasing jabs. It's sassy, jazzy, and fun. Field Trip is rounded out by the students' memories: horse-drawn carriages (legs peddling through the air, feet stamping the floor); hard work (running, slapping knees and then floor); and old-timey games.