Call this critic struck by ‘Unstruck’

Kate Weare Company shines brightly in program at The Ringling

Image from the Kate Weare Company website
Image from the Kate Weare Company website

I found myself thinking of Giacometti sculptures and the undulating rhythms of a Jackson Pollack painting, as the five extraordinary dancers of the Kate Weare Company grappled with one another in an evening of high energy and pulsating rhythms at the Historic Asolo Theater on Feb. 12.

In a nod to the unconventional — as the audience was still being seated — Volver, a short, playful riff on the Tango, performed by Douglas Gillespie and Julian DeLeon — opened the program. The Tango, a dance rooted in sexual relationships, was the perfect choice to introduce an evening of choreography exploring the dynamics of physical connections.

Kate Weare has a background in martial arts, which was evident in excerpts from her 2013 work Dark Lark, with its emphasis on balance — both physical and emotional. Nicole Diaz, an amazing dancer of poise, strength and extraordinary balance, nonchalantly played with a red butterfly as she carved an arc in space with her legs and her arms. The symbolism was obvious and continued: Douglas Gillespie played with a red fan, while Kayla Farrish and Ryan Rouland Smith met, and confronted one another, pushed along by composer Christopher Lancaster’s clanging score.

Yes, the dancers were powerful and beautiful; yes, this was a work exploring sex; and, yes, bored, I almost left. Fortunately, I stayed and was surprised by the mysterious power of Weare’s 2015 work, Unstruck. And though it uses the same basic movement vocabulary as Dark Lark, the work created an entirely different impression.

Curtis Macdonald’s mysterious-sounding score — using electronically altered wind instruments — added a jangly, percussive rhythm that connected to Unstruck’s hypnotic streaming of movement. I think it was this rapport between the sound and the choreography that added to the mesmerizing power of the three dancers: Julian DeLeon, Nicole Diaz and Ryan Rouland Smith. In constantly shifting improvisational confrontations that explored the inner dynamics of power, they tested each other: bodies swirling around one another; torsos convoluting; hands extended, probing the air; arms jabbing like the spokes on a windmill; strong straight legs punctuating the space between them; and sudden lifts — first for two and then for all three — delicately trembling with possibility.

The trio, dressed in loose fitting shirts, resembled a human puzzle of locking and unlocking patterns as they danced their way through Unstruck’s challenging, layered choreography, which made me think of Kate Weare’s vision as being more closely aligned with abstract art than conventional story telling.

This was the company’s third visit to The Ringling Museum’s New Stages, Art In Our Time series, and, after the success of this program, I am certain that there will be another invitation extended.