by Minji Kim
I entered the Loeb Mainstage feeling confident, and even admittedly a bit smug, that I had the "insider’s look" into Momentum’s rehearsals prior to seeing the real thing. I knew what to expect because I had seen what these talented dancers could do with their bodies, I’ve talked with some of them, and I even had a glamorous dining hall dinner in Quincy with student directors Liz Walker ’11, Merritt Moore ’11, and James Fuller ‘10.
But when the lights went down and the curtains went up at the first foreboding note of Professor Hans Tutschku’s music, I knew "Momentum" in the flesh would be a wholly new experience. It’s one thing to watch rehearsals, hear the critiques of the choreographers in between pieces, and then see the tweaks and changes done in repeating sequences. It was another thing to watch the entire performance all together in an orgy of artistic creativity.
Some parts did border on being too much—a Johnny Depp-like figure loomed onto the stage on stilts bowing a guitar at one point—but one could easily appreciate it as a departure from traditional dance and theater. True, I was a bit confused as to the purpose of this meandering, lanky giant, but his presence did add an element of eeriness and renegade edginess that broke conventions of traditional dance.
The main thing I would complain about was the very bizarre light transitions in between the pieces. I’ve been to many professional ballet and modern dance performances, but I have never experienced lights going fully on in between each of the six separate pieces. Such lighting disrupted the experience of being thrown from one artistic experience to another, and I felt like lights flooded the theater just when my eyes had adjusted to the darkness.
As a whole, however, the show was exquisite. The amount of multidisciplinary arts concentrated onto one stage nearly overwhelmed me. In addition to integrating classical ballet and modern dance, the music was all sorts of crazy rock-techno-ethnic-jazz music, and even elements of video and theater merged into one. My personal favorite was "to dust," in which the dancers gave a nod to the classic Greek myth of Pygmalion and created a narrative of their own. Using white powder to imitate marble dust, and holding stiff poses as if they were sculptural masterpieces, the dancers successfully merged dance and theater for a climactic finale.
After having followed these performers throughout their rehearsals and finally seeing their goals realized on stage, I can’t stop marveling at how the choreographers and directors managed to round up all the genres of art and catapult the mélange of creativity forward and onto the stage. "Momentum" has not only opened, but triumphantly broke down, the conventions of traditional dance and the boundaries that separate all fields of the arts. But don’t let me wax poetic about everything to you; hurry over to the Loeb for the last day! Last shows are 2& 8 p.m. Saturday, November 14 at the Loeb. FMI: http://ofa.fas.harvard.edu/cal/details.php?ID=40650
[Caption: MOMENTUM at the Loeb. ]