The Setup: On May 24 and 25, Psophonia Dance Company presented Taking Flight at City Dance Studios.
Flight marked a christening of sorts, as it was the first fully produced dance concert to be held in the space.
The Execution: Psophonia Dance Company, under the direction of Sophia L. Torres, is a troupe that is defined by its sheer physicality. It's fitting, then, that the theme of the company's spring concert is built on a verb phrase. The show's opener, Ground Swell, is a powerful dance that sees the ensemble maneuvering between forceful rushes of movement and moments of pulsing stillness. The dancers suspend in the air in intricate lifts and high level balances. It's a great rush of energy that's exciting to watch.
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Equally interesting is Falling While Wading, a dance that is more suggestive of moving through water than air. It's also a tango of sorts, as dancers pair off and interpret the music through lovely weight shares. What is most interesting about Wading is the movement of the ensemble in unison versus its movement in canon. The dancers are able to weave seamlessly between the two, giving the impression of a fast-moving river that glides along in some places and churls in a flurry of rapids in others. The connectivity between the dancers seems to be of utmost importance in this piece, and the intuitive link between movers is clear and distinct.
There are dances that seem minor by comparison. Ground Swell is followed Clean Up, in which two dancers in protective bodysuits enter to clear the wreckage of exhausted dancers. The two dancers tread in slow, calculated steps, herding the bodies on the floor offstage. The Ground Swell dancers go unwillingly and jerk in alarming spasms. It's an interesting, eerie piece to watch, but it ultimately functions as a way to reset the space for the next dance. Zoe Keating's "Frozen Angels" is such a sonorous piece of music, it begs to be used in a standalone piece.
The final dance, The Cranes are Flying, was my favorite, largely because it was such a departure from the rest of the program. There are no lifts or demanding floor work; rather, it is a meditative dance dependent on the dancers' attention to detail in their movement. The visual cue of an origami crane, introduced in the solo beforehand, is brought to life a trio of dancers dressed in paper gowns enter from the shadows. One holds the skeleton of an umbrella - red origami cranes hanging from its spindly frame - high above her head as the threesome bourrée settle into curved spiral shapes. Their hands cover their faces, demure and delicate as, well, paper cranes. It's a moving dance - even though these lovely cranes are in full flight, their structured gestures hint at the fragility of life even at the peak of full power.
The Verdict: Psophonia's spring concert was notable for its three showpieces: Ground Swell, Falling While Wading, and The Cranes are Flying. It was also memorable for Torres' smart and savvy use of space, and her resourcefulness in creating an evening-length work sans wings, proscenium and traditional lighting design. Some of the interior pieces felt more like connectors than standalone words, but the show moved, which is what dance is supposed to do. I felt more grounded than flighty for most of the concert, but I was always interested in what I was watching: fun, strong work by fun, strong dance artists.