By Catherine Head
Hedwig Dances aims to provoke human connection and wonder, and with their current show- Metamorphos & the world premiere of SYZYGY (currently playing at the Ruth Page Center) they have done exactly that. The intimate theater at Ruth Page is the perfect venue to see these 2 different but interconnected pieces. Both Mike Tyus’ SYZYGY and Jan Bartosek’s Metamorphos are concerned with connection: human connection, human to machine connection, historical connection, ethereal connection and the timely connection between humans, machines and the natural world. The choreography of each piece is thought provoking, engaging and enjoyable. This show provides opportunities to be entertained and to be contemplative; a wonderful combination and a great way to spend an evening.
The evening starts with the world premiere of SYZYGY, choreographed by guest artist, Mike Tyus from Los Angeles. The choreographer’s focus on different types of connection, both worldly and otherworldly is expertly performed and communicated by his dancers. With only 3 dancers on the stage- the sheer physicality- interplay and intentionality with which the dancers perform, make it a joy to watch. Although words are not used, the dancers expressive performances allow us to witness the myriad non-verbal ways in which they communicate to one another onstage, and therefore to the audience as well. In one segment there is jealousy on display as the trio shows us through looks, movement and human pyramids how jealousy can play out. On 4/15 it featured: H. Meneses, Paula Sousa and Alex Meeth. Paula Sousa, the only woman in the trio, is an especially gifted and expressive dancer; while H. Meneses and Alex Meeth bring an enthusiasm to their roles that brings the choreography to life. The costumes designed by Lukas van der Fecht were neutral tight fitting shorts and a shirt that looked like it had the outline of a skeleton on it- perfect simplicity that highlighted the physical interplay and the push/pull that goes on in relationships. The piece was dynamic and exhilarating.
The US premiere of Metamorphos was next. Metamorphos is a collaboration between Hedwig Dances and the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation in Germany. Metamorphos is a sequel to the Triadic Ballet performed in Germany 100+ years ago as part of the Bauhaus movement. To have a greater understanding of this piece I recommend spending 5 minutes on Google to get an understanding of the ideas behind the Bauhaus movement ( if you are not already familiar with it). Or, at minimum; read all of the program notes and the wonderful information presented in the lobby re; the original Triadic Ballet from 1922. Collaboration is at the very heart of Hedwig Dances and Metamorphos is a wonderful example of both collaboration and outside the box thinking.
The eight dancers seamlessly incorporate both large objects and some inflexible costumes (many based on the original costumes worn 100 years ago) to show us the symbiosis between man and machine (which the original Triadic ballet was focused on) and then the metamorphosis between insects and the natural world; a lot to ponder here!! The dancers ability to relate to the material and to one another made all the ideas synthesize and made for a thought provoking evening. The history of Bauhaus is made relevant and the contemporary connection (metamorphosis) to our natural world was articulated through the deft choreography, the expressive dancers, exquisite costume design and amazing sound design. The sound design was a collaboration between Patricia Taxxon and the talented Richard Woodbury (resident sound designer of the Goodman Theater). The costumes and puppets were an international collaboration between the Chicago Puppet Studio and Torsten Blume of the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and others. Some costumes were re-created from the Triadic Ballet while others were created for this new iteration. All of this collaboration coupled with a group of extremely talented dancers who breathe fresh life into this new piece and make it their own, is what makes Metamorphos successful. .
I highly recommend SYZYGY and Metamorphos. It is only here for one more weekend, and the space is intimate; so hurry to get your tickets before it sells out.
Hedwig Dances information and tickets
Photos are courtesy of Hedwig Dances