BoSoma Dance Company Celebrates Ten Years
By Brittany Lombardi
Last month BoSoma Dance Company celebrated its 10th season at Boston University’s Dance Theater. Established in 2003, co-Artistic Directors Irada Djelassi and Katherine Hooper began the journey as one of Boston’s most infamous contemporary-dance companies. Combining lively movements with athletic performance quality, BoSoma’s legacy has continued to challenge audiences to be creative through performances and outreach educational programs. Often collaborating with local musicians and other dance companies in the Boston area in order to connect with audiences of different artistic mediums, BoSoma believes in creating dances that inspire people to think and move in innovative ways.
Breaking the molds of the serene, intimate atmosphere of the show’s lineup, six dancers in black two-piece costumes appeared center stage in a hue of red light. Choreographed by Katherine Hooper earlier this year, using Dirty Doering’s catchy percussive song ‘Bye
Bye Bar25’, Nocturnal Creatures explored the release of inhibition that one is only able to find during the wee hours of the evening. Five women and one man playfully flirted with the audience and each other during series of isolated shoulder movements, sleek glides through space, and moments of quick flight. At first, the dancers moved about the stage in straight lines and diagonal formations. As the piece progressed into a faster pace, each of the dancers branched off into their own areas of the stage and danced with smooth, buoyant falls to the floor, then stood again before moving into another pattern. Amongst the jazz-influenced steps, the partnering sections of the piece were seamless. In between the series of battements, pirouettes, and awkward weight changes, two or three dancers would join hand in hand, rolling off of each other’s backs or cartwheeling as their partners rolled beneath them. Combining organic, modern movements with dynamic jazz techniques made this piece entertaining to watch: The music made the piece come to life, and the dancers seemed to enjoy performing the choreography. By the end of the piece, the audience was refreshed and ready for the second act following intermission.
Unlike the exciting nature of Nocturnal Creatures, Moments (2012) centered on the human experience. Blanketed in a shadowed luminosity of grey images on a scrim upstage, dancers dressed in nude-colored shorts and dresses embraced the soothing sounds of violins and piano. Each section of solos, duets, and groups caused the images to change from cars moving fast on a city bridge to rain dripping gently from a window, imitating the pace of life, its ups and downs. The movement vocabulary of Moments incorporated balletic steps with weighted descents and effortless ascents into space, pushing and pulling away from unknown forces. The intricate nature of the choreography required serious attention to technical detail; had the dancers not any formal training, this work would not have interpreted as beautifully. Toward the final stages of the piece, the violin played faster, yet the dancers remained calm as they continued to curve their limbs into circular motions of turns and deep contractions. Despite the countless intriguing moments in Moments, the most liberating part of the 15-minute excerpt of the original 30-minute piece was observing the dancers’ use of breath. Each time there was an exhale, whether it was in unison or individually, the dancers’ bodies became smaller; on every inhale, their extremities reached past their kinespheric space, giving the illusion of ongoing length beyond the stage.
Closing the evening on an entertaining note, BoSoma Dance Company brought its viewers to the wonders of a Marionette circus. Originally choreographed by Katherine Hooper, Ricardo Foster, and Irada Djelassi, puppetry and modern dance merged to formulate a zany “mad hatter” atmosphere. Using three white boxes as pedestals, and thin, white, elastic strings as props, the entire cast transformed from people to clumsy dolls as soon as the music started. According to Katherine Hooper, “The idea of Marionette was based on the idea of how we, as individuals, tend to be controlled and influenced by our surroundings, by what and who we’re born into — society around us.” The combination of BoSoma’s precise aesthetic with Foster’s energetic hip-hop movements gave the dancers performing Marionette a challenging obstacle to conquer- throwing their bodies into flimsy motions without losing control. If the props were not included in this piece, the choreography would not have been as dynamic or entertaining to watch. By using the boxes and strings to add level changes to the choreography, there were more moments for the dancers to demonstrate their technical abilities and performance qualities.
Examining a wide spectrum of movement styles, BoSoma Dance Company presented works it should be quite proud of. Its unique aesthetic can be unsettling at times because of the length of the works. On the other hand, the choreographies are rich with technical and organic steps that must be shared with the community. The most impressive aspect of the entire performance was the company’s preparedness. Without hours of rehearsal prior to this performance, the pieces would not have been clear in portraying the messages behind them. As one of Boston’s premiere dance companies, BoSoma Dance Company certainly inspired people to inventively think and approach dance in various views.