Island Moving Co. interprets Cole Porter
by Johnette Rodriguez
Island Moving Co.'s artistic director Miki Ohlsen first fell in love with Cole
Porter when she was a child, as she listened to her father sing "Every Time We
Say Goodbye." That song and four other Porter classics are the basis for her
new ballet called Deconstructing Cole Porter.
Seen in rehearsal last week, Ohlsen's choreography is strikingly modern,
beautifully evocative and imbued with a sense of the ballroom style usually
associated with these songs. Island's current dancers, four men and five women
for the upcoming performances in the "Flight of Steps" series at Fort Adams,
July 22 and July 25 through 28, have never been better: polished, confident, as
smooth as butter.
The first movement of the Porter piece opens with four couples facing the back
of the stage, their bodies just beginning to sway to the hypnotic "like the
beat, beat, beat of the tom, tom." They swing into motion on the title lyric,
"Night and Day," reaching out longingly with their arms and then their legs,
now and again posing with a hand atop their head or on their shoulder.
Sometimes the movement swirls down onto the floor, but you can still recognize
the stylized gestures of ballroom dance melded with modern ballet.
In the second movement, Eva Marie Pacheco performs an emotion-tugging
rumination, "Why Can't You Behave?" Stroking each arm with her opposite hand or
reaching an arm around her opposite shoulder, she seems to be trying to love
herself to make up for the betrayal she experiences from her lover. The quiet
moments in this piece are the most dramatic: she rolls each shoulder, then her
head; her hands brush her face. Michael Bolger partners her in an attempt at
apology -- the quick arabesque before he falls toward the floor, with his hands
catching him, seems a moment of genuine abjection before she makes her final
decision and sends him packing. Another pas de deux follows, with David
Lawrence and Danielle Genest, set to "Every Time We Say Goodbye." Genest's
bittersweet sadness is evident in every gesture and pose. She runs her fingers
through her hair; she stands contemplative, one foot en pointe across the
other; she reaches out and looks all around, as her beloved begins to disappear
from her grasp.
The third pas de deux harks back to the first, in tone and feeling, as Rolando
Troconis and Mary Beth Murphy perform "Get Out of Town." Ohlsen has
choreographed this with more push and pull between the lovers. The dancers move
toward one another for a lift and embrace. They almost kiss and then rush away.
The sequence is repeated until he kisses her on the forehead and they finally
The closing movement brings the four couples back on the floor for "It Was
Just One of Those Things." The male dancers (including Alejandro Gomez) lift
the female dancers onto their shoulders, hold them under their arms for a
close-to-the-floor whirl and pass them around their bodies onto the floor. This
piece is breathtaking to watch, with the dancers in gem colors of silver, blue,
green and purple. The dresses are straight columns, the men in matching
T-shirts -- elegant but toned-down from tux and ball gown. The entire
Deconstructing Cole Porter will be performed July 22, 25, and 28, with
duets from it July 27.
The other premiere is by company member Danielle Genest, her first here in
Rhode Island. Genest grew up in the Newport area and came back to dance with
IMC two years ago. Volatile Passage (to be performed July 22, 27 and 28)
is danced to "Like That of Sky," an Eastern-sounding piece by jazz composer
Collin Wolcott. Passage begins with Eva Marie Pacheco hunched slightly
forward, one foot over the other, arms rounded into a large semi-circle. At
first, she strikes quick stances that match the rhythm of the piece, and then
five dancers line up behind her, taking the original pose from the opening.
Genest explained that she was influenced by an Australian creation myth in
which an underworld creature takes her children and pushes up through the
surface of the earth, crawling along to make rivers, building shelters to make
it habitable and then returning to the underworld, though leaving her children
behind. All of these movements come into play in the dance, along with feisty
kicks, floor rolls and fists in front of face to fend off and to protect. There
are portions of the dance that even seem Tai-Chi-like, as the six dancers climb
over and around one another.
The other five ballets from repertory that wil be performed in a schedule that
encourages viewers to attend more than one night at Fort Adams are:
Ruthless, the story of a young woman torn between her mother and her
lover (22, 25); Hora Cera, a group of tangos (26, 27); Apples to
Oranges, a solo by Michael Bolger (25); Under a Sheltered Sky, an
allegory about praying mantises, with live music July 25, also performed July
28; and Date to Be Determined, Ohlsen's homage to departed friends and
family members (26, 27). Call 847-4470 for details.