Over the weekend, I experienced the world premiere of “Free to Live,” which was part of the “Spring Forward” repertory dance concert of Caroline Calouche & Co. This aerial and contemporary dance company, founded by Caroline Calouche, is a little different than most dance companies. Calouche is inspired by her own explorations of blending contemporary dance with aerial dance in harness and fabric.
“Free to Live” is an innovative piece that paints the picture of many different views of freedom — through movement, light and sound. Based on the stories collected from one-on-one interviews, Calouche and three other dancers explored how different people define the idea of freedom. Knowing this background gives the dance some clarity. But, even without prior knowledge, there were obvious relational interactions, both struggling and supportive connections.
It is a significant time in our history to reflect on what it mean to be free. And this dance — like most art forms — offered a more innovative approach to contemplating this idea.
There were other works on the program as well, five performances that became more complex, building on earlier movements and visual language. These were all leading up to the longer, very intricate “Free to Live” premiere. All of the dancers performing were passionate and seemed to love what they were doing. Yet, one sensed a more professional level of control — and ease of movement — when watching dancers Calouche and Jim Reynolds.
There are several things that stood out about these performances. First is the choreographing of the movement, music, light and shadows, as well as the aerial props. All dance utilizes the space on stage, lighting and sound. But Calouche’s company does a beautiful job with directional lighting and its subsequent shadows. This, with the use of the aerial equipment, adds another dimension — almost like other “dancers” if you will.
There were moments that brought back memories of John Cage and Merce Cunningham with minimal, off beat movement and dramatic use of silence. These dances were simpler in form and set, but that leaves more room for personal meaning. This was dance that makes you think.
However, as the different aerial props are spontaneous and unpredictable, there was the occasional awkward moment of uncertainty in a transition movement. Like other art forms, that may be part of the intention. Regardless, this is a company to watch. Spring Forward was the last performance of the season, but I’d recommend experiencing next season’s offerings of this innovative dance company.
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Caroline Calouche & Co.