Lady Bos Productions’s ‘Mind the Gap’

words by Kathryn Boland | image courtesy of Catherine Siller

Where are you? Where do you want to be? How do you get there?

These are the broad questions that Mind the Gap, from Kristin Wagner’s Lady Bos Productions, asked. Race, gender, and class “gaps” were also highlighted — through poetry, photography, video, and dance —  and offered a space for various femme-identifying artists to share their work in an informal atmosphere, in various rooms in Green Street Studios (Cambridge, MA). In the first act, Wagner focused on  disparities and inequities that artists face with a solo dance and poetry reading in a room that also included a photography exhibit.

Right before the second act, she instructed all attending to pop a balloon. A certain color  inside the balloon meant you were invited to stay for the second act; and if you didn’t have the right color, the show was over for you . “Just kidding,” Wagner  said after the balloons popped, “but imagine what it would feel like if that disparity were real.” While it it was a clever idea in service of a powerful point, it felt like this audience participation moment could have been a bit more organized.

Dancing took the lead in the second act. Second in line was a duet from Margot Parsons’s Dance Vision, danced by Christine McDowell and Marin Orlosky Randow. A sense of contrast began to build from the very beginning of the piece, with one dancer facing to the back and one facing to the front — one behind the other. They began to move their arms like tentacles, initiating from their elbows and flowing through their fingers.

From there, they moved out in space from with an explosion of new energy. This front and back facing returned soon with turning small and tight, one dancer spotting to the front and the other to the back. All the while, their movements had a silky smoothness matching their lovely costumes of long skirts, elegantly paired with simple leotards.

In another section,  one dancer took small quick steps on a diagonal, one foot following the other, while facing her partner, stepped backwards on that same diagonal. Perhaps the most compelling contrast was the sense of connection created in such moments of separation. This sensibility was buoyed through sinewy partnering and harmony during moments of unison.

I did wonder what might transpire with using more of the stage space, traveling out to the edges, as perhaps another element of contrast to that close contact. All in all, however, the work made me ponder how we as humans connect and how we part — another kind of “gap”, if you will. Classically informed, yet with a feel of more modernistic flow, Parson’s movement pleased my eyes and heart as much as it provoked my mind to think.

A couple of pieces later came Hey Girl, danced and choreographed by Angelina Benitez and Rebecca Lang. Similarly to the work from Parsons, the work underscored a gap between interpersonal connection and separation. They stepped slowly backwards, from opposite sides of the stage, towards its center and each other.

Partnering brought an impressive number of variations on finding and releasing physical contact. One sequence brought included a fall to the ground as the other dancer rolled backwards over her shoulder. They rose and swayed hips in rhythm together, one’s hands on the other’s hips. Another prescient moment was when they moved within each other’s negative space. Longer durations separated in space could have further bolstered these ideas of “together” and “apart,” as well as allowed for the two dancers to become characters in their own rights (if that might have been an intention of the two choreographers). Yet what was clear was an admiration between them, whatever the nature of the admiration may be.

Other works filled the second half, some effectively contributing to the night’s theme more than others, and some more memorable than others — but all were worthy in their own ways. On a night focused on closing the gaps we see within and around us, the gap between the audience and the presenting artists seemed smaller as all joined to offer and enjoy the art on the program.

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