Dance Review: Caroline Calouche & Co’s “Spring Forward”
This past weekend Caroline Calouche & Co. showcased their Richmond premiere of “Spring Forward” at the Grace Street Theatre. Based out of Charlotte, NC, this aerial-centric company presented a collection of four shorter pieces, culminated by one larger work.
Upon my arrival to the theatre, I immediately noticed a surprising lack of audience. With four traveling company members, the performer/attendee ratio was almost identical. Artistic & Executive Director, Caroline Calouche, made light of the empty seat surplus, walking out on stage to encourage audience members to “come closer and get a better seat.”
The show began with Arthropod, choreographed by Calouche, Jamie Larkin and Cristina Catalani. Described by the company as “an invertebrate animal that has an exoskeleton, jointed limbs and a segmented body,” Larkin’s solo performance flaunted her gymnastic background. Interchangeably using her arms and legs to “walk” across the floor, she maintained level-changing suspension without ever fully touching down to the floor.
Guest choreographer Leah Cox’s Space/Time, performed by Calouche, was the only work sans an aerial apparatus. Calouche captured repetitive, angular shapes, while moving through the space in a repeated pattern. The movements seemed to mimic actual parquetry, or geometrical mosaic floor patterns. The spoken audio was impressive, featuring basic, yet vast, introspection on the implications of space, time and art.
Calouche’s The Tie that Binds portrayed two dancers, Larkin and Stephanie Cantrell, bouncing off the floor, ascending and descending within the aerial silk. Inspired by “the thread that connects us all,” I admired their in-air synchronicity and fluid connections, but felt that same fluidity was abandoned on- ground.
In Solo Con, choreographed and performed by Calouche, I witnessed an intriguing duet between Calouche and a trapeze. She introduced us to, and became familiar with said trapeze, then successfully filled the space with the movement of two beings.
The final piece, Free to Live, explored the meaning of “freedom” through multi-media and varied movement, while introducing further aerial apparatuses. From using video projections of news broadcasts from multiple nations, followed by an actual conversation between Cantrell and the audience, the topic of freedom was questioned over and over again.
While most of the prior aerial pieces were static (apparatus is hung directly from the rigging point and cannot be moved up or down), Larkin performed an athletic solo on a large swinging platform, initiated and maintained by the other dancers. Following sections featured a large moving box, a suspended aerial cube, silks and a bungee harness. Creating captivating sculptures in the air, performer Sarah Johns added strength to the aerial choreography, yet seemed slightly out of her comfort level when dancing in and out of the floor.
My fabulous acquaintance of evening, who comes from a non-dance background, commented on the diversity of the performers’ training at the concert’s conclusion. True enough, only Calouche and Cantrell have dance backgrounds, while Larkin and Johns have other theatre foundations and minimal dance experience.
Not your typical “dance company,” Calouche & Co. is filled with diversity, on stage and off. If you ever get the chance, the company’s well-crafted aerial pieces are certainly worth viewing and supporting.
Find out more at at Caroline Calouche & Co.’s website.
A recent NYC transplant, I'm a writer, dancer, foodie, clothing lover, and sriracha supporter. Having lived in RVA for seven years, I completely adore the River City, and still spend as many days as I can rock-laying on the James. A self proclaimed "vintage voyeur," I think the arts scene of any city can reveal so much... not only about our past, but also our modern day, and where we need to go from here.
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