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Recap: Olive Prince and Charles O. Anderson at the nEW festival

Posted June 12th, 2009

Video: Olive Prince Dance – OUT

Neo-traditional African and contemporary dance, fusing bodies, headless dancing suits, and themes of false persona and social change taken together equal more innovation from the nEW festival. Last Saturday night, I caught the works of Olive Prince and Charles O. Anderson. Prince’s premiere of the work in progress, OUT, showcased two separate pieces, Serenade and once i lived in a cardboard portal. Although connections between the dance montages are not meant to be connected, they relate to one another in theme and intent, exploring the tension between outward presentation and inner thoughts and fantasies.

Serenade, involved two bodies, one controlled, the other erratic, writhing on stage until they fused together. The provocative, spasmatic, and seductive magnetic force pulling them together then ripping them apart evoked a symbiosis without which both would die. The bodies differed in form and motion but each was necessary to complete the other.

once i lived in a cardboard portal featured dancing bodies with hangers for heads. A humming drumbeat jolted the headless suits to life, bodies slowly emerging from their shells of business attire. Removing the facade of the headless shirts left behind a lingering sense of liberation, as the individual bodies were freed. The piece developed into a statement about genuine freedom and faux contentment, revealed the complexities of female social interaction, and won bonus points from me with its drawings of big toothy grins dangling in the background.

The last work of the evening, evidence of things (un)said, was choreographed by Charles O. Anderson. It is an installment of Anderson’s latest project, World Headquarters. Inspired by the Book of Luke and Octavia Butler’s novel Parable of the Sower, evidence of things (un)said brought to life themes of spirituality, strength, remembrance and celebration. Dancing to the a cappella renditions of “At Last” and “Precious Lord” cohered an emotional journey of social change.

At several points throughout the performance the dancers released marbles, scattering them across the stage. The sound of the marbles hitting the ground and rolling forward breathed life into the idea of how we can release our collective pasts in order to clear the path for better tomorrows.

–Jennifer Burrini

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