A celebration, red carpet and all, with Boston-based and visiting performers
Dance Now’s eighth season program opened last weekend at the Dance Complex in Cambridge, with performances from NYC choreographer David Parker and the Bang Group, and numerous Boston-based choreographers. The program is set to celebrate both the audience and the artists, red carpet and all—as live performances return—and is styled especially for Boston.
The shows are hosted by the Davis Sisters (who aren’t actually sisters), with performances from Peter DiMuro, executive artistic director of the Dance Complex, and local choreographers Kristin Wagner and Aysha Upchurch. The series serves as a necessary celebration, considering the difficulty the COVID-19 pandemic brought for artists.
“Part of our needs right now as dance artists is the affirmation and celebration that we still have the desire to do this,” said Alexander Davis, half of the theatrical dancing duo the Davis Sisters. “The pandemic isn’t over yet … and from there we need to figure out what will work for the Davis Sisters, then what will work for the Boston dance community, then what’s going to work for the larger dancer community. And our answer to that question is participation awards!”
The Davis Sisters describe the event as one in which each audience member and artist will receive something affirming from it—at least, a participation award. “I’d love for our audience to know they have an excuse to come to Dance Now and to the Dance Complex and dress up, because there might be a red carpet for them to walk down,” Joy Davis said. Alexander added, “You wanna be caught in your favorite outfit if you happen to, you know, be given an award and have to give a last-minute acceptance speech.” In addition to hosting the night, the pair will perform vignettes in-between performances.
NYC choreographer David Parker and his dance company, the Bang Group, will perform excerpts from his piece “ShowDown,” inspired by the musical Annie Get Your Gun. Parker describes the work as an “ode to show business” that explores conflicts between ambition and romance. Parker said he “eliminated the elements from their era” in his interpretation of Annie, playing with gender roles and integrating queer romance.
Like other Bang Group’s pieces, “ShowDown” will be performed without instrumental elements, but rather with music made from performers’ bodies—or, as Parker describes it, “glimpses of people communicating through rhythm.”
Peter DiMuro is performing a solo piece, “Five Episodes Facing Dusk and a Possible Dawn,” comprising five “episodes” reflecting on pandemic life. Hip-hop inspired Boston choreographer and Harvard instructor Aysha Upchurch will perform Feb. 26 and 27 with a piece titled “Tensile Joy,” which she describes as “an exploration of what keeps me going, even when … life says I shouldn’t. It is supernatural. It’s unfailing. It’s radical.”
Local choreographer Kristin Wagner created a piece for both weekends. “Survival Aesthetics” pulls from Darwinian theories of evolution that express the necessity of beauty for survival. The piece will be performed by artists from her dance exchange, the Click.