Of the many moments in this dance rehearsal, it's the image of the studio floor dotted with Voci dancers bouncing off each other's personal orbits only to land in someone else's that has remained in my mind the longest. The title of the piece by choreographer Tara Lee Burns is I think, therefore …; as it shall be clarified in the program, "The text in this piece was modified from a monologue found in ‘the pig that wants to be eaten' by Julian Baggin, a response to René Descartes."
It wasn't very long into our conversation that I realized these ladies were serious students of modern dance: Kelli Cummins and Genevieve Bernard of Voci, and Burns, who now works in New York but has collaborated with Voci in the past and will again at their upcoming showcase at the Garden Theatre. In fact, all troupe members are degreed and experienced, and totally smitten with modern dance. They regularly beat up their bodies to achieve an artistic end, and they absolutely love it — like junkies.
I'm here today to watch and learn more about the process of shaping ideas into movements, then watching the dancers interpret those movements. Obviously it's a female cooperative at work, not that Voci hasn't worked with men before. (Who could forget Emmial C. Fields?) It's just that the sharing and support in evidence is such a maternal way of managing artists. Out of such a trusting environment, leaps of imagination are born.
"Choreography is not usually collaborative," says Burns, and that's what's extraordinary about working at Voci. "Our different voices add to the product," says Bernard. There's been a stabilizing of the troupe over the past several years, which Voci followers will appreciate in this patchwork program. For instance, the cherubic Lisa Mie's playful presence can be found in several of the selections. And Voci veteran Adrienne Nichols can always be counted on for her unflagging passion and quality of entertainment.
Back to the rehearsal of I think, therefore …, just one of nine pieces by five choreographers on the program. I'm watching Nichols and the other dancers, flat on the floor, struggling to inch forward with grasping arms, all wearing grim looks of desperation. I know this dance. It's that daily struggle to survive that we all feel, comforted perhaps only by the reality that countless others are stuck in the same motion. The troupe wants my feedback, and I share personal thoughts elicited by the interaction — how can I not when the essence shared with me has been so honest?
I'm lost in the sea of humanity, while the dancers are stretching and moaning and getting ready to do it all again and again. Who knows what'll still be in place by the final edit? The molecules just keep firstname.lastname@example.org