As I entered the theater hall of Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art, I saw two dancers standing statuesquely on pedestals, dressed in the strangest ensemble of garments and jewelry. As the audience settled down into their seats, they couldn’t help but glue their eyes to the stage, where the dancers slowly let each item drop onto the floor, one by one. And then, in the complete silence of the theater, they rapidly removed all the colorful clothes to uncloak their unadorned bodies, dressed in grey T-shirts and tights.
The word “aerial” has come to connote aerial silks, trapeze, lyra, and similar circus arts, and the performances often involve more acrobatics and gravity-defying tricks than dance per se. That’s not to say that aerial silks are not graceful or expressive, but that Cirque du Soleil has set a high standard for making audiences gasp.
This year, Mocha Moves performed “MoMA: Museum of MochA.” Every set of the showcase was beautifully reminiscent of the artwork that inspired it and representative of the way that dance can tell stories. Mocha alumni served as MCs, introducing the appropriately named dance sets which alluded to historical paintings — “Girl with the Ratchet Earring,” “Venus de Mocha,” “The Mocha Lisa,” “Persistence of Memory,” and a flurry of other fun pieces.
Try telling a wordless story in five minutes that inspires your audience and distills reality. At the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT), this art is perfected by a team of performers as graceful and poetic as they are energetic and assured. Billed as a “ballet”, Alvin Ailey is refreshingly accessible and attracts a more diverse audience than the typical “Nutcracker” or “Swan Lake.” While generally following the forms of classical ballet, the show includes contemporary music and costuming, and small gestures like jazz hands or waving goodbye help turn dancers into relatable people.
Is dancing performance art or competitive sport? That is the question put before the International Olympics Committee (IOC), as it considers to allow competitive ballroom dancing in the Olympic games. To help the IOC make its mind, the World Dancesport Federation (WDSF) brought some of its best dancers from around the world to the Boston World Open for the first time last weekend.
The dancers were often full of life, bounding around the stage, rolling and leaping in synchrony. Other times, some dancers became inanimate. When they did, they became mere puppets — puppets "of the universe, of life and the audience," as Noa said.
The two-hour show is filled with color, spazztastic music and moves, and enough hooting and howling from the fanatical audience to fill up the MIT night scene.
Alvin Ailey's winning formula is combining the well-worn with the new, and the illustrious company again delivered to a receptive Boston audience.