Nancy Karp + Dancers

“Memory/Place” World Premiere

Written by:
Joanna G. Harris
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“…reestablish identity and place”

Nancy Karp and her company of six dancers have attempted a complex work, evoking “memory/place” as the title suggests. The three-part piece, accompanied by live music throughout, is complex, moving and often mystifying. Dealing with issues of uprootedness and displacement, Karp uses the dance space to illustrate the thematic intentions. She says, “ I am investigating the neglected or often forgotten edges and corners of the stage and finding the dancers’ physical limits in the space.”

To some extent it works. Both the dancers and the musicians occupy corners of the stage; the dancers move through the space but rarely group into center. Although this is thematically well intended, audience viewing tends to force random choices of where to focus attention. Instead of seeing the whole, one concentrates on individual dancers, unless they are duets.

The major problem throughout “Memory/Place” is that the movement is constantly repeated. Karp uses the stretched arm, arms that wrap around self or another, downward focus, bodies curled on the floor and similar gestures, intended, one assumes, to convey emotional upset and the need for connection and attention. The dance vocabulary resonates with that seen in many contemporary performances, employing lifts, falls and resting time on the floor. Except for one or two running and leaping moments, the tempi and rhythms remain the same.

Which is not to say that it is not effective. The sense of displacement is accomplished although when, where and with whom remains unclear. The dance begins with the group sitting on benches, which re used in section two to bisect the space. Although that grouping suggests a barrier, that image is not successfully explored. All the dancers move beautifully; special note should be made of Sibsgerée Giles and Peter Chung. Chung, more that the others, projects his movement to the house.

Karp is to be congratulated with the commission of music by Kui Dong for Part I, played on violin by Kate Stenberg and on cello by Gianna Abondolo.
Robert Honstein, commissioned by the New Arts Foundation, wrote the score for Kate Stenberg on violin and Part III used Lou Harrison’s “Grand Duo” (1988), performed by Stenberg, violin and Sarah Cahill, piano. Thekla Hammond’s “Painting #5” was effectively projected. Production design credit goes the Jack Carpenter; costume design to Lydia Tanji.

The dance company members are” Peter Chan Janet Collard, Sonsherée Giles, Sebastian Grubb, Katie Kruger and Amy Lewis. Congratulations to all for a moving effort to evoke these contemporary issues.

Joanna G. Harris

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