Choreographers: Colleen Thomas & The Performers
Composer: Robert Boston
Director: Colleen Thomas
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
What does femininity mean in terms of sociocultural treatment? Why do women have to speak twice as loud just to be heard, and then are told they need to quiet down when they raise their voices to the necessary level? How do we reconcile being looked at versus being seen? Will the fight for equality ever come to a satisfying and victorious end?
These questions and more are explored in Colleen Thomas’ Light and Desire, currently in a limited run at New York Live Arts. With an international cast of acclaimed dancers supported by a chorus of local performers, this movement theatre piece examines what it means to be a feminine-presenting person in the year 2021. Inspired by the election of Donald Trump in 2016, Light and Desire was originally slated to premiere in March of 2020. Delayed a year, this complex piece cannot help but be viewed through a covid-tinted lens (as will be the case for a great deal of art in the coming months and years), the breath of the performers as they move through the intimate space all the more an auditory landscape than was intended.
With the two groups of performers (six in black/metallic wardrobe and eleven in khaki-colored jumpsuits and stunning floral masks by Rebecca Makus) exchanging ownership of the space throughout the performance, a duality begins to emerge. The performers in edgier garb (Carla Forte, Ermira Goro, Rosalynde LeBlanc, Joanna Leśnierowska, Colleen Thomas, and Ildiko Toth) are individuals, each grappling with oppression of some kind. Even when moving in unison with the others, each is distinct. The khaki-clad group (Eleanor Altholz, Emily Giovine, Nadia Halim, Garnet Henderson, Falls Kennedy, Morgen Littlejohn, Sadi Mosko , Nicole Rondeau, Carolyn Silverman, Kennedy Thomas, and Maddie Wood) present as a monolith, activists and women advocating as a group, even when they are not synchronous in movement. The different groups alternating and ultimately sharing the stage are a compelling illustration of women as a collective versus their individual experiences. We need both. One informs the other.
Light and Desire is a wonderful return to intimate, movement-based theatre. Thomas’ choreography is dynamic, captivating, and evocative. Each performer shines in her own right, and the ensemble as a whole is incredibly strong. One hopes this engaging experience will return to audiences again in the near future after its final performance at New York Live Arts on September 18.
Runs Through 18 September 2021 | Photo Credit: Maria Baranova