The Visual, Audible, and Physical Fuse in "Momentum"

by Minji Kim

Electricity, grace, sass: "Momentum" has it all. Smooth swirls of the body fuse with robotic convulsions, and graceful arabesques of classical ballet are embedded in a bass-heavy rock arrangement. A Harvard Ballet Company (HBC) production, this show is far from your traditional "Nutcracker." But then again, it’s not a simple rehashing of "Save the Last Dance" or the cheesily recurring "Step Up" series either. Instead, co-Directors of HBC Liz Walker ‘11 and James Fuller ’10 and Artistic Director Merritt Moore ‘11 envision "Momentum" as a wide-reaching, revolutionary fusion of all art forms, an overwhelming concentration—in a good way—of artistic talent on one stage.

Using video clips from VES students, original electro-coustic music from Harvard professor Tutschku, and dancers from all areas, "Momentum" takes advantage of as many resources at Harvard as possible. At the same time, the show strives to bring the arts closer to a diverse audience by incorporating performers from the Cambridge and Boston area.

"The original idea was to bring dance forward, keep it coming into the 21st century, and to do that by incorporating many different art forms. We have aerialists, and one of the composers will be performing on stilts. At one point he’ll be bowing the guitar along with a separate string group," said Walker.

Over dinner, Moore, Walker and Fuller gushed about dance as their way of life.

"You hear music and it emerges, it comes from the inside. It’s like, ‘Oh I feel like I want to move this way,’ and it just is," said Fuller, putting down his salad fork to improvise some astonishingly fluid shoulder dips. "It’s a way of being intensely alive, so hyper-aware, so present."

"There are things you really can’t express in words. As they say, ‘Actions speak louder than words,’ and dance does exactly that," Moore added.

Inspired by their enthusiasm, I decided to drop by one of their rehearsals with renowned choreographer Josie Walsh at the Harvard Dance Center. I could see what they meant by "aliveness" and being "hyper-aware" through dance. The "hyper" part is right: The fierce confidence they projected through their both physically and stylistically flexible bodies were breathtaking. I was witnessing the transubstantiation of sound waves into intricate, captivating choreography, and the energy the dancers had was thoroughly contagious. With the music pounding and the choreographers using sounds to direct the mood and feeling they wanted in the thrusts and turns ("KAH, boom, boom, PAH"), it wasn’t hard to see how, for them, audible art sparks inspiration for the kinesthetic and vice versa.

In "Momentum," emotion is distilled from music and hurled from one dancer to another in a vigorous brigade of potential and kinetic energy. What I saw was only rehearsal. I can’t wait to see the real thing.