Caroline Calouche & Co.’s performance this past weekend, October 12 and 13, was an intriguing blend of modern dance, theater, drama and the aerial arts. The Company, now in its 7th season, has become known for this multidisciplinary approach to contemporary choreography. As an experimental performance, “The Macabre Masque” was imaginative, yet it lacked narrative clarity and cohesion between the dancing and the plot.
Loosely based on several literary works by Edgar Allan Poe, including “Ligeia” and “The Masque of the Red Death,” “The Macabre Masque” tried to intertwine these stories together in a haunting, spooky tale appropriate for Halloween. The performance began with a scene from a masquerade ball where guests were trying to avoid a contagious, deadly virus. While the costuming and lighting conveyed the scene, the partnered dancing was forced, repetitive and sloppy.
This story line was then interrupted by the death of a random man whose fatal precipitance was unclear. He was either accidentally killed or committed suicide, but either way the dance sequence that ensued was random albeit well performed. In fact, it was impossible to tell what the piece added to the overall plot line. The repeated use of flashbacks to provide explanatory details further complicated and confused the story, and unfortunately the narrated and visual text did not aide in clarifying the tale.
On a brighter note, Nicole Cutrone and Stephanie Cantrell’s solo dances were well executed. Cutrone’s obvious grounding in ballet and modern technique allowed her to explore the themes of death and soul beautifully, and Cantrell’s semi-aerial piece was appropriately creepy, since she portrayed the ghost of a murdered wife. Caroline Calouche’s aerial dance utilizing fabric was also beautifully performed although lacking narrative relevance. Her holds displayed her strength as an aerial dancer and yet were not overly done.
Calouche founded her namesake company in 2005, intending to produce and promote contemporary dance choreography in conjunction with multidisciplinary artistic collaborations. The Company is the first aerial and contemporary dance resident company at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center. Calouche also teaches dance and aerial arts classes at the Company’s Studio on Monroe Road in Charlotte.
In this viewer’s opinion, “The Macabre Masque” has great potential, but the plot line needs to be pared down and refocused, if it is to stay in Caroline Calouche & Co.’s repertoire.