When two dancemakers’ careers have been as interwoven as that of local modern dance choreographers Kathy Dunn Hamrick and Kate Warren, there will inevitably be echoes of style and influence in each other’s pieces. Such was the case last weekend at "Double Step," presented by Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company with Warren’s Circuitous Dance at the AustinVentures Studio Theater.
Of the evening’s three pieces, two were danced by KDH company members — "The Big Small" was a Hamrick choreography, while "Pity Party" was conceived by KDH dancers Roxanne Gage and Mariclaire Gamble. The penultimate piece was Warren’s "Flipped Earth." Hamrick and Warren’s 35-year creative partnership was unmistakable.
Gage and Gamble’s "Pity Party" was a reflection on a shared circumstance. After sustaining dance injuries last season, the pair co-choreographed an ode to the old show-business adage "The show must go on." In the piece, seven dancers made the best of their less-than-ideal situations, as they clutched injured arms and legs while bravely making do (I could almost hear the artistic director yelling, "Don’t let them see it in your face!"). A dancer in a bedazzled hospital gown slowly unfurled a jewel-encrusted ace bandage, which she proceeded to wrap around her leg. The dancers’ faces comically flipped from pain-riddled to stage-ready. These contrasts led to the number’s conclusion, when the dancers collapsed into chairs after having hastily wrapped various limbs.
In Warren’s "Flipped Earth," whispers, gasps and emphasized breath created an atmosphere of instability. Pulled limbs, collapsed bodies and rolls on the floor gave way to slow, tai chi-like movement. The aural elements of bodies smacking and expelled breath came to a climax at the conclusion of the piece when a lone dancer rushed head-on towards the audience before stopping short of the front row to give one last gasp.
The chain-reaction-like movement in Hamrick’s "The Big Small" worked to convey the larger themes of direction, time and intersection. Projections displayed the days of the week being scribbled: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. The nine dancers, donning pants and swirling skirts of pastel colors, trustfully fell into and onto each other. As their realities both abruptly collided and drifted to overlap, a sense of inclusion was built.
This sentiment pervaded the entire evening of "Double Step": Two dancemakers, two dance companies, one community