Get Cultured — March 18, 2015 at 11:30 am

Life, Death, and Renewal: Creating Art through Movement



Perfectly placed to debut on the cusp of spring, Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre’s Renewal, a kickoff of their Fifteenth Anniversary Performance Season at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, was just that: a rejuvenation, an awakening, a rebirth. Little vignettes, shining orbs, and moving lights: Each dancer moved effortlessly across the stage, whether to running water, funk, jazz, or a mixture of all of the above. With each ending came a new beginning, with hints of movement from previous pieces.

In an excerpt by Deng Ming-Dao, the choreographer’s note states: “You might say that completion actually begins somewhere in the middle of a cycle and that the new beginnings are engendered out of previous actions. Completing a cycle means fulfillment. It means that you have achieved self-knowledge, discipline, and a new way of understanding yourself and the world around you…Celebrate every turning. And persevere with joy.”

Many pieces began slowly, mesmerizing and fragile, while others were quick, immediate, and sharp. With every rebirth came various interpretations. Each piece had beautifully delicate costumes to match, allowing us to be transported time and time again into different expressions. The costumes began in shades of white and grey, developing into browns, reds, and lighter earth-tones, ending with even brighter oranges and blues, like a phoenix rising from its ashes. Renewal brought the audience to an ethereal level, constantly bringing us into its cycle and allowing us to create our own connection and beginning with the dancers.

The Crystal White Gala following the event, a fifteen year celebration of Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre, portrayed how this company has touched so many lives. Demonstrating parts of their education program, Notes in Motion, also directed by Selwyn, the company discussed the necessity of having arts in school, so that each child can create his or her own movements, voice, and self-discovery. One of the performers, Randall Anthony Smith, spoke about what Renewal meant to him, explaining that the “cross-pollination keeps the brain active. It’s a beautiful saturation of a variety of flavor, texture, and movement.” In its most simplest form, it’s about bringing oneself to the stage and taking part in the greater human experience.

Anything artistic always raises the ever-constant question: Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? In this case, Renewal embraces the latter: It teaches us to find expression, to give meaning to natural events, and to find beauty within it. Full of growth, passion, death, and ultimately, rebirth, Renewal creates and recreates art, one gorgeous vignette at a time.

Twisted Talk: What’s the last dance production you’ve seen? Have you attended any performances by Amanda Selwyn Dance Theatre? Discuss below!

%d bloggers like this: