Alone Together at The Citadel

Alone Together

Solos by Jane-Alison McKinney / Naishi Wang
The Citadel
Ross Centre For Dance
Mimi Herrndorf Studio Theatre, April 11-14 2018

Reviewed by Ted Fox


Taking Breath

Choreography & Performance Naishi Wang

In his program notes, Wang states that he is exploring breath as a form of communication.

His hands, palms facing his body, slide down his face and over his eyes; then, palms cupped together, he releases his breath into them like blowing away seeds or an insect.

His body becomes semaphoric, suggesting tai chi meditation and other movements impelled by varying modulations of breathing and vocalization. Some come from deep within, molding the body into a visual expression of the release of painful memories. Others become a preparation for his walking towards us, confronting us, staring, lips puckered into kisses accompanied by sucking sounds.

At two points he leaves the stage through a doorway. We hear off stage his breath creating rasping and gasping noises. As if he is in death throes. His hands clasp the door frame. Falls face down onto the stage. For me, even though his physical presence was not there I could see him.

Wang's body language is compelling and at times emotional. Too many repetitive movements for me became anticlimaxes, creating a disconnect from this expressionistic body language. A shorter running time would have created a tighter more fully involved experience. 

The lighting design at times hyper illuminates his body and pulsating breaths, or dims and accentuates his breath's voice.

There She Was

Choreography & Performance Jane-Alison McKinney

Jane-Alison's piece is divided into two segments. Her tall figure is suggestive of a statuesque goddess. She moves to sweeping music that seems to propel her forward, then works against her. A sense of breaking through a barrier. And at the end, liberation. Fragile. Human. 

In the second part she herself creates impediments to her movements by putting on a dress and a pair of black high heels. Turning her body image into a stereotyped fashion statement. Hobbled by this footwear she arduously pushes her body forward, legs twisted an distorted

At the end she talks to us about living in a crazy world. Yet convincing herself all is fine. "I mean we are, we're here. We have a roof over our heads." And goes on to say that life can be overwhelming and all of us need an escape--get dressed up, drink, smoke, read or become someone else. "What matters is that sometimes you have to put your blinders on. Forget everything else, and jump. And it can be really good--it can be fun."

McKinney reverses these sections so this last becomes a There She Is. The other what she could have been. As McKinney's recorded voice says just before first part begins: "We probably shouldn't end it like this."

An ironic, thoughtful and disturbing beautifully choreographed work.