ODC.dance.stories
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ODC.dance.stories

Illustration by Jessica Caisse.

Rosanna Tavarez & Bianca Cabrera Travel In Multiple Dimensions

Garth Grimball

This review was originally published at Life As A Modern Dancer.

The weekend of November 11–13, ODC Theater ended its 2022 Fall Season with a split bill: Rosanna Tavarez/LA DANSA DANSA and Bianca Cabrera/Blind Tiger Society. Tavarez’s “Piece X Piece” is an exploration of time, lineage and migration. Cabrera’s “Fever Dreams” births a fantasia of limbs from the coupling of bodies.

“Piece X Piece” has a clarity of style. The stage has a rack of pale clothes and a sewing table and chair. Tavarez and Hyosun Choi are dressed in white. Choi lies in a fetal position on the grand train of Tavarez’s ensemble, pulled through the space umbilically.

Rosanna Tavarez/LA DANSA DANSA. Photo by Angel Origgi.

The voices of Tavarez and her mother, Lelia Tavarez, come through the speakers. Lelia tells of her migration from the Dominican Republic to the United States. Tavarez and Choi dance in transparent dresses with lines of vertical white piping. The lines on their bodies are like longitudes on a map. They wear their geographies.

Lelia’s voice returns with a reverie of youth and disco. Tavarez dons a white jumpsuit and I see her dancing; I see her being inside her mother’s story; I see a moment when we realize our parents are people too.

Tavarez and Choi dance like they are moving through questions and reaching for answers. Heads circle, arms throw, weight drops. Only once do they dance together, in unison, faces visible and calm.

“Piece X Piece” ends in a frenzy. The duo subvert the WPA images of “noble work” done in civic pride. The sound of a sewing machine surging amplifies as they move through repetitive actions exhausting their bodies. Tavarez honors the reality of work done by immigrants, women, mothers.

“Fever Dreams” is an orgy of color. Neon. Day-Glo. Saturated Colors. Cabrera, Nico Maimon, Chelsea Mulholland and Nina Wu are covered in multicolored unitards, layers of color, face paint and nail polish, as if alebrijes were painted in radioactive pigments.

Bianca Cabrera/Blind Tiger Society. Photo by Sophie Leininger.

The quartet ooze across the stage. Colors and bodies melt and set. A tree of limbs becomes a deep embrace becomes a Hydra. I doubt there is a centimeter of body that didn’t connect with another body. The dancers perform yogic maneuvers with runway confidence. The energy is carnal not sexy.

Like a dream “Fever Dreams” coheres around aesthetics more than any central idea. The dancers make shapes not crafted to miraculously appear a la Pilobolus to evoke the familiar. Transformation takes effort. The audience sees how the shapes are made. At one point Cabrera pulls her body along the floor with her feet. She leaves a trail of sweat, of residue, of effort in her wake.

Like waking up from a dream, the end of “Fever Dreams” bemuses. Animal abstraction gives way to contact improvisation lifts soundtracked by an original song from Cabrera and Ben Juodvalkis. Lyrics of longing are sung with emo yearning. The dancers slough out of their trance to look at you human to human.

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