Author : Alyssa Timin
March 26-29 saw the world premiere of Adamantine, Susan Marshall & Company’s newest evening-length dance. For someone like myself—a writer-type sometimes mystified by dance—the performance came across with all the clarity and radiance suggested by its title. Adamantine’s strengths certainly included the originality and confidence of its performers, yet they also extended to Marshall’s discriminating use of stage elements and lighting effects. The spotlights, scrims, and strobes created myriad opportunities for both striking illusions and expressive commentary. At times, the presence of the individuals onstage was palpable, solid; at others, their bodies appeared discontinuous and ephemeral. One particularly memorable scene, which the choreographer called the work’s “center of gravity,” featured a female dancer who, peering down into a combination fan and spotlight, allowed her magically lightweight plastic jacket to fly off her arms and up into the yawning vertical space of the stage. To me, it was an image of narcissism, endearing in its innocence, showing one way in which we shed and retrieve everyday objects as parts of our self-image.
During a post-show discussion on Saturday night, Marshall made an intriguing reference to her own fascination with the way her dancers work together, how their years of collaboration have developed certain patterns and pathways in the creation of each new piece. I found myself wondering what exactly she meant and whether people who have spent years in the world of dance saw what she was describing taking place in Adamantine.
For me, Adamantine evoked the struggle to get and to keep what we value. In particular, the dance seemed to address our constant vulnerability and to imply that strength mostly means picking ourselves up and dusting ourselves off, more or less literally, over and over again.
Alyssa Timin is a freelance writer living in New York. Her art and music writing has appeared in the annual magazine of the Philadelphia Music Project, Finnish Music Quarterly, New Music Box, Visual Arts Journal, Artsline, and Sequenza 21.
You may not know it, but you may already own a Whitehead. The composer of the music accompanying Susan Marshall & Company’s Adamantine and frameDances doubles as a textile designer. Major companies such as Target, West Elm, and Kenneth Cole have used his patterns for clothing and home furnishings.
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