Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet presented world premiere Ida ? by Emanuel Gat over the weekend. This “playful contemplation on the nature of human relations” sent me running to Urban Dictionary for a new definition of “bucket.” There were two red buckets featured prominently and their only function seemed to be to upstage the dancers. The stage was mostly dark for most of the 30ish minutes. Dark. Like, dancers were moving in completely unlit space. The red buckets were down front under the only consistently lit area, so dancers near the buckets were lit (and reflecting redness), but there was no interaction with the buckets. The dance, with a soundtrack of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata no. 32 and a list of random spoken words, was disjointed and sometimes cliché. Dancers looked sharp in their underwear. They’d go from standing to a track-star-style run around the stage or walk assertively forward digging their heels in for effect. One person sometimes stood in the dark observing a crowd, or moved independently, and the crowd drew individuals in and moved like a blob. Gat’s presentation of human social tendencies lacked complexity, perhaps for being too broad a topic.
They also performed Violet Kid and Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue. They were both beautifully dark and self-conscious like an Ingmar Bergman film. The industrial feel of Violet Kid was matched by the music, which was created by the choreographer Hofesh Schecter. Like Ida ?, this piece was physically dark, but there were streams of light coming from the top or bottom on the open stage, so only the spots underneath or above a light were visible. Dancers could disappear completely into the void that surrounded the rays of light. Violet Kid was jerky mosh-pit movement, sometimes tribal and sometimes lyrical, with a little humor, whole without straining to be anything… I loved it.
In Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue by Crystal Pite two dancers moved within the boundary of standing spotlights, and beyond the boundary was black. Lights that followed the dancers created a sense of immediacy. The physicality between the pairs reminded me of the Scottish Dance Theater’s fabulously and aggressively athletic duet Drift, performed at ADF in 2011 and 2012. But Cedar Lake’s duets were less violent and their movement more lyrical. One’s movements extended from the others, so the two bodies moved as one entity.