CATCH! A moment from There’s a Party In My Mind.
Island Moving Co. will present their annual summer concert, Flight of Steps, at Fort Adams State Park in Newport (July 13-15 and July 18-22), featuring pieces by choreographer Colin Connor, from California; choreographer/IMC artistic director Miki Ohlsen and by two IMC dancers, Michael Bolger and Danielle Genest. Bolger and Genest’s dances are premieres; Ohlsen is reworking three pieces from repertory; guest artist Debra Noble will perform two solos choreographed by Connor; and Connor’s piece, The Fragile Warmth of Collisions in Free Fall, which premiered in IMC’s spring season in New York and Newport, will be expanded with more dancers for the Fort Adams performances.
Ohlsen’s three revitalized pieces are from 1999, 2001, and 2006. The most recent, There’s a Party In my Mind, is set to four David Byrne songs, and it’s fun for both dancers and the audience. “She Only Sleeps with Me” has female dancers, including guest artist Danielle Genest, leap into a male partner’s arms, curled sideways as if asleep when they are caught.
The double duet from 1999’s Outside the Box will be re-staged, as four dancers move around each other in repetitive patterns, akin to the minimalism of Steve Reich’s Music for18 Musicians, to which the dance is set. The partnering in this piece is, indeed, “outside the box”: unusual, surprising, and inventive.
Ohlsen is also doing another take on Under a Sheltered Sky (2001), her homage to praying mantises. The dancers’ hands are held flat with fingers curved backward, sometimes twining antenna-like over their heads. The women’s feet also take on a quirky insect look when they are en pointe. The breathtaking pas de deux that was originated by Danielle Genest and Rolando Troconis will be danced by several pairs of dancers from the company, including Genest reprising her role. Toward the end of this duet, there is a complicated series of partnering moves that ends with the female dancer being triple-flipped and caught in front of the male dancer.
Connor’s piece is set to street sounds and music by Nuove Musiche, a Scaninavian baroque ensemble led by guitarist/composer Rolf Lislevand. In this dance, Connor conveys a sense of being swept away by currents of water, of reaching out in every direction and being pulled back, plus a lot of orbiting movement — all metaphoric images for relationships. Seen in May with five dancers, it was a mesmerizing and beautiful flow of canon-like sequences, in which two women or two men partnered the same movements as a man and woman together.
Connor’s partner Debra Noble will present Café Scarlatti and The News Falls Like Rain, the first a light-as-a-breeze solo with an emphasis on musicality attuned to Scarlatti. The second piece is set to the adagio movement of Ravel’s Piano Concerto, and Noble is a woman who has just received a letter and acts unsure about opening it to find out what it says. Even though she is outwardly calm, Noble conveys the nervous suspense of such a situation.
Danielle Genest is making a duet for Rick Vigo and Sara Barney, set to music by Isaac Albeniz. And Michael Bolger is doing an ambitious piece with 10 dancers who first appear with suitcases, an allusion to Recent Arrivals, an earlier dance by Connor. Bolger’s piece is titled Suite Silver, in honor of IMC’s 25th anniversary and his own 20 years with the company. “I’m doing a retrospective of all the works we’ve done,” Bolger explained, in a post-rehearsal phone conversation. “It’s my interpretation of what we’ve done in the last 20 years — the process that we go through, as individual dancers.”
The first leg and arm crossover refers to a George Balanchine photo, and Bolger’s attachment to the image is because it shows Balanchine teaching, which is such an important component of IMC.
“I also make a lot of references to [choreographer] Carol Somers,” Bolger continued, “because her apples to oranges was such a huge highlight for me and opened up so many opportunities for me.” The 20-minute dance draws on Beethoven, Mozart, Edith Piaf, Adam Ant, and operatic arias, plus text assembled from what dancers have said about their experience at IMC.
“It’s truly a celebration of IMC — the feats and defeats that they’ve gone through,” Bolger reiterated. “It’s my family, and I’m proud to be a part of it all.”