April 26, 2015
Adam H. Weinert, choreographer and curator, begins MONUMENT with a cast of five dancers dressed in black shorts and tank tops, entering and exiting the stage from opposite sides, meeting briefly in the center, embracing, holding... before walking off. This five minute introduction, danced in silence, sets up the program that is both a tribute to historical figures and re-staged works of Ted Shawn and Doris Humphrey, as well as an extension into his own world premiere, MONUMENT, as the finale.
Pierrot in the Dead City choreographed by Ted Shawn, music by Erich Korngold, is performed by Adam H. Weinert. Originally choreographed by Charles Weidman in 1921, Shawn re-imagined the work for Barton Mumaw, his lover, in 1935. Weinert, lithe, intelligent, handsomely flows through the piece’s low lunges, and lifted pique arabesques suggesting life’s moment to moment glimmers of ecstasy, and wonder.
Logan Frances Kruger, Weinert’s lone female performer for the evening, opens Doris Humphrey’s Two Ecstatic Themes (1931) dressed in a long, white dress, center stage, standing strong and powerful with arms stretched out circling her torso, dropping and releasing arms in beautiful port de bras positions suggesting quiet acceptance in “Circular Descent.”
The second variation, “Pointed Ascent” incorporates more angular, severe, lunges, expressing an assertive self. Kruger is a confident and gifted performer, bringing Humphrey’s full bodied strength and imagination to today’s stage.
The third piece on the program, Four Solos Based on American Folk Music (1930), by Ted Shawn, features the four men in the company. Piano music by Jess Meeker, playing renditions of folk songs “ Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen...”, “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Old Time Religion,” supports each short dance and Shawn’s effort to place men in the historical perspective. Strong, sensuous, and emotional performances by each performer recapture Shawn’s inner life and intent.
MONUMENT, an ensemble work, about thirty minutes in length, ends the evening. With raspy, old- fashioned sounding music by Chris Garneau (after Jess Meeker), Weinert accomplishes his original premise: to “explore mediation, memory and space.” Four dancers appear in black again, as in the introduction, this time in culotted skirts, at times carrying, at times placing portable lights in different spots. Dancers’ images are reflected on the curtains and walls in various sizes and distortions. Does this suggest the fleeting and haunting existence of memory and time?
Towards the end, the men strip from their skirts to shorts. The woman strips topless, suggesting gender shifts. They sit, ponder, roll to shoulder stands, holding these upside down shapes (questioning a monument perhaps?), turning themselves upside down and inside out, before reluctantly, exiting the stage sequentially one at a time.
Weinert has capably absorbed the research of his elders, Shawn and Humphrey, and has capably produced his fine cast of dancers: Logan Frances Kruger, Brett Perry, Davon Rainey, Manelich Minniefree, and himself, into an abstract dance expression of all time. Monument honors the importance and survival of a past age and the enduring effect and resurfacing of these figures’ signature works on a young choreographer today.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Mary Seidman