Whenever choreographer Betsi Graves finds herself in a rut, she takes a ride on the T. “It’s so inspiring to watch the gestures that people do … without even realizing that they’re choreographing anything.”
It’s fitting that Graves, the artistic director of Urbanity Dance, would mine material from Boston’s urban milieu. In the city where Boston Ballet reigns supreme, Urbanity is carving out a niche as Boston’s premier contemporary dance company.
“[Urbanity] is really trying to pave the way [as] a dance company in Boston that’s more accessible but that also hasn’t, you know—completely sold [its] soul to commercial dance,” explains Graves with a laugh.
Urbanity’s fourth annual spring revue, I AM ______, features six works from six choreographers, each piece a one-word response to the blank space in the show’s curious title. FAST, FEISTY, STILL, LYING, AIR, and SOFT run the gamut from the high-concept to the pop culturally-savvy, while dancers don everything from combat boots to stewardess costumes.
According to Graves, the Urbanity team was much choosier this year, cutting the number of pieces down and bringing in three guest choreographers, including New York-based Larry Keigwin of the critically-acclaimed Keigwin + Company.
“[Boston] is always kind of considered the stepchild to New York,” says Graves, lamenting the fact that many young Boston-trained dancers hotfoot it to the Big Apple as soon as their studies are done. This annual exodus is partly responsible for Boston’s dearth of male dancers, and as a result, Urbanity is a primarily female ensemble—a potential problem for Keigwin’s AIR, which was written for a gender-balanced company.
Luckily, says Graves, the Urbanity dancers had no problem executing the lifts normally reserved for their male counterparts.
“[We] were able to set the same choreography on the ladies,” she says, “because they’re so fucking fierce.”
I AM ____
PRESENTED BY URBANITY DANCE
BOSTON UNIVERSITY DANCE THEATER
915 COMM. AVE.
2pm, 7:30pm/ALL AGES/$24-99