July 31, 2017
It is a bold move to create a full-evening work in contemporary ballet style, where storytelling does not rely on the usual balletic modes of conveying narrative. Inspired by Franz Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise to the poetry of Wilhelm Muller, Amy Seiwert’s Wandering (2017) was an admirable attempt at interpreting this dramatic monologue’s journey that ultimately lost its way.
It began conventionally, with a dark stage and a chair downstage left with an old record player on it. A dancer in a red robe enters, starts the record, and dances a gestural solo, with balletic extensions thoroughly mixed with contemporary vocabulary. A group of dancers emerges from the back, dressed in leotards and bare legs, slowly walking downstage, eventually surrounding him, pulling him in different directions. Throughout the evening, different dancers don the red robe, becoming the central focus of the choreography.
This trope works well at the beginning, but once we realize each dancer will get their moment, and there is not enough difference between one journey and the next, a bit of tedium starts to set in. Choreographically Seiwert relies on the same material, and together with Schubert’s mournful, and sometimes difficult, music (especially to non-German speakers), the ballet becomes too monotone and repetitive. Each of the dancers has a moment to shine, both technically and artistically. One wishes there was more for them to develop with depth and difference.
The disjunction between the words of an ambiguous wandering hero of the Romantic period, and the fierce sexiness of barely costumed contemporary dancers is interesting to contemplate, but when the feeling remains essentially the throughout, one is left wishing that the wanderer would find home.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Nicole Duffy Robertson