Giants and Steps

Island Moving Co. takes its annual Flight
By JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ  |  July 9, 2008
REACHING OUT: Two members of the IMC.

Island Moving Co. will present new dances and works from their repertoire at its summer Flight of Steps series, July 11 through 13 and July 16 through 20 at 6:30 pm at the Great Friends Meeting House in Newport.

The two premieres that the company performed in May — Scott Putman’s Walking In the Halls of Giants and Island artistic director Miki Ohlsen’s Let Me Live In Your Eyes — will alternate as opening pieces. These will be joined by Ohlsen’s immensely engaging Hora Cero, a medley of tangos set to the music of Astor Piazzolla; Carol Somers’s amusing apples to oranges (a solo by Michael Bolger); and duets from Ohlsen’s captivating Deconstructing Cole Porter.  

Putman teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University — he is the founder of Amaranth Contemporary Dance, and he has created what he calls the Elemental Body Alignment System.

“His dance truly comes from inside you,” emphasized principal dancer Danielle Genest, during a break in rehearsals at the IMC studio. “Your limbs are just following along. It’s the intensity of Putman’s movement that captures you.”

Walking In the Halls of Giants begins with each of the 10 dancers lifting just one foot and then the other very slowly, T’ai Chi-like, with a relaxed, almost meditative feel to the movement. Next comes a lunge and a reaching out with splayed fingers that slowly fold in, as if they are trying to grab something indefinable and hang onto it.

One sequence has dancers stepping over dancers lying prone on the floor. The upright dancers roll the others to one side by a push of one foot to their midriff, and the dancers on the floor contract legs and arms into a fetal-like position.

Taking a cue from the title, and from the two electronically sampled classical music selections from Cosmos by Fernando Corona (as Murcof) that score the dance, a viewer begins to recognize that Putman is exploring the vastness of the universe and the role of human beings in that universe.  At times, the dancers whirl around and past each other, intently focused on their personal orbits; at other times, they form lanes for others to walk through. At one point, eight dancers make a circle as David Dubois carries Gregg Saulnier over their heads.

“There’s an amazing energy to this piece,” Dubois noted during a pause. “It’s almost a humming, because there’s so much going on internally and because everyone has to be totally aware of where everyone else is. The audience doesn’t know what’s going to happen next.”

For Let Me Live In Your Eyes, Ohlsen took the title from a poem by Merrit Malloy about grieving the loss of a loved one. With three male and six female dancers, she has created a deeply moving work about people gliding past each other in their daily lives but now and again reaching out to connect with one another: to offer comfort or to help each other through sad and difficult times.  

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