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Illustration by Evannovostro.

Lenora Lee Dance Connects (the) Movements

Melissa Lewis Wong

Lenora Lee Dance’s In The Movement unravels a series of sonic/somatic portraits — traversing a spectrum of loss, transformation, pain, redemption and other in-betweens — not neatly tied or braided smoothly but in the messy fray of real stories.

The ugly underbelly of nationalism (saran-wrapped and suffocating) ruptures and emerges through a palette of perspectives; these voices (from Borey “Peejay” Ai, Ericson Amaya, Guisela Mishel Ramos Guardado, Rhummanee Hang, Melanie Kim, Cindy Liou, Enrique Cristobal Meneses and Jessica S. Yamane) meet our ears like beacons of truth: both hard to look at or away from.

Johnny Huy Nguyen, Sawako Ogo, Moyra Rodriguez, Johnny Cox, SanSan Kwan, Felicitas Fischer, Miguel F. Forbes. Photo by Robbie Sweeny.

The eyes are invited to rest on movement that reaches towards, yearns for, ripples with the words we hear. An epic group of performers fills the stage in waves and swells of solos, duets, trios and larger group sections: Johnny Cox, Felicitas Fischer, Miguel Forbes, Lynn Huang, SanSan Kwan, Johnny Huy Nguyen, Sawako Ogo and Moyra Silva Rodriguez. The soundscape of voices spills over with layers of detail, nuance, emotion — where the performers offer new articulations, translations, and renderings. Their bodies become pathways for retelling: spiraling, sensing, pressing, balancing, tracing, holding, falling, reaching, re-arranging. The weight of this task is palpable.

Audiences and performers alike might be in a shared grasping for understanding, feeling, language. How do we metabolize experiences of incarceration, detention, separation, rehabilitation? What is the space between (that and) us? What is the texture of the relationships between us? audience, performer, voice, immigrant, artist, prisoner, activist, detainee, deportee. What is shared, what is lost?

I am learning something from this story / these bodies, meeting anew in this moment — switching between inundation, effort, tension, release.

Lynn Huang. Miguel F. Forbes. Photo by Robbie Sweeny.

I hear, “belonging to a family, a community, a nation” and feel a thousand things. The layers of perspective and proximity created in the theater space struck a powerful depth for me:

Closest to us, a silhouetted body gestures slowly in the foreground, dim

Several dancers move with sweeping specificity, mid-stage

Projected on the back brick wall, larger-than-life bodies swivel + expand

zooming in — to individuals, stories, textures, feelings. to you, to me. zooming out — to systems beyond our control, to shared patterns of pain, to bigger arcs of change. Dissonance, imbalance, repair, discomfort, discovery.

We need to feel all this depth.

Melissa Lewis Wong (she/they/他 — AKA Deuce Lee) is a queer, biracial Chinese American artist working with working with mixed lineages, mother tongues, tube tops, Bruce Lee and drag. They have been working in Yelamu (San Francisco) since 2010 with a few dance companies and many wonderful friends! @lemelissa @brucelee___deucelee @asianbabegang



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Dance dispatches from the most active center for contemporary dance on the West Coast.