Butler Chamber Dance made an explosive debut Nov. 7 and 8. Performing new works and sharing each bill with guest companies are its dual thrust, said Michelle Jarvis, chair of Butler’s Department of Dance.
Butler Chamber Dance debuted last weekend.
Aerial Dance Theater from Holland, Mich., featured five dancers, two of whom are choreographers. Aerial’s distinctive storytelling voice is electrifying. Linda Graham is not afraid to be unpretty and ungainly in her solo, Iris Mae Precious. Who among us doesn’t know a mother who stifled her daughter’s “prospects” until the young woman turns into an old spinster? Fluttering fingers, twisting torso, Iris Mae disdains pity, capturing instead our delight in her resiliency to make life joyful anyway. Graham also choreographed Do You Hear the Angel’s Wings, danced splendidly by Kara Wilson, Colette Harris and Lisa Sachs. Unpredictability is Graham’s signature, along with the spoken word, to propel movement, in this case flowing, interweaving and as close to being on toe while barefoot. The closing moments of flight went beyond simulation to believability. Steven Iannacone’s solo, Meat, based on fluid choreography, probed the body as a manipulative entity at any particular time, place, condition. Contending with a broken toe as simply another element to integrate, Iannacone tested his will against the encumbrance. It was a tour de force of mind as master of muscle. Butler’s 16 students showcased two new works by faculty. Jean Paul Jr. infused Norman Walker’s A Haunted Landscape with virility as the trespasser while the past spirals into present. Paul’s face, at the close, projected the unanswerable, “Is this true?” Outside Now Again is Cynthia Pratt’s most open work with 11 dancers whirling, twirling, leaping, rolling in perpetual motion. “Addressing a moveable vocabulary, exploring kinetic energy,” individuals build a company. Like fireworks imploding into entrances and exits, the dancers were dazzling. Susan Owens’ costumes sparked the Butler pieces and Fritz Bennett’s lighting was a boon to the entire evening. Plans are to bring Butler Chamber Dance to Hope College, Aerial Dance Theater’s home, and to offer future programs with other companies.