Technology with attitude

Apex Contemporary Dance Theatre performs with cellist, Zoe Keating in Colorado Music Festival

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Apex Contemporary Dance Theatre
Photo by Nicholas DeSciose

The Chautauqua Theater in Boulder hosted the much anticipated collaboration between internationally renowned cellist Zoe Keating and Colorado based dance company, Apex Contemporary Dance Theatre on August 3. The man sitting in front of me insisted on rhythmically bobbing his head to the music, the inconvenience, however, was not huge.  I was a dancer going to see dancers but as it turned out I would receive an entire production of collaborative brilliance.  The relationship between the Apex and Keating was one of the many mesmerizing moments of the evening.   Apex proved that, along with skilled performers, one of the company’s strengths is the musicality of Artistic Director, David Reuille’s choreography.  The dancers embodied the nuances of Keating’s music so flawlessly, it appeared the two were simultaneously created, as if one could watch the music and hear the dance.

Keating confesses that when she was younger she wanted to be a part of an orchestra because she loved the feeling of being lost in the music.  “That didn’t quit work out,” she laughs explaining the use of technology as an attempt to create a similar feeling.  She puts in headphones, closes her eyes, and travels to a place where she, her cello, and her computer are the only inhabitants.  From the audience, it feels like spying on an intimate moment making Apex Contemporary Dance Theatre a welcomed addition.  The first collaboration, entitled, “Dialectic,” opens the performance.  Hegel, the German philosopher, used the title term to refer to contradictions which are equal parts of a higher truth, providing a perfect description for the piece, which consists, primarily, of juxtaposing duets.   The work creates a sense of exploration and establishment, the exploration of space and the dancers place and ability to move within a given space. Once these characteristics where defined, the dancers seamlessly  moved through the movement with artistic virtuosity, as if each shape was strung along the chord of one breath.

They leave us alone with Keating who passionately performs her own works and one piece she calls, “a Beethoven cover,” until the second act.  The stage misses them in their absence and joyfully welcomes back the full company, all wearing a modern rendition of the Romantic Era tutu.  This newer version has removed the front half of the skirt and given the back half a neon colored interior.  The dancers swish their hips to a song Keating has yet to begin, showing the range of movement in the costumes, and thus, “Emergent Properties” begins.  In a cross between Paul Taylor and Jackson Pollock, the dancers perform a journey of colors that blend, overlap, approach, interact, and depart.  Lighting adds an additional character in this soiree, at one point darkening to reveal only floating silhouettes and flying colors.

The downside to such a performance is that it only happened once.  Those who were fortunate enough to attend received a music and dance performance stellar independently and exceptional as a unit.  The lesson for those who missed out is to buy tickets for Apex Contemporary Dance’s next performance.    They have proved themselves to be a company not to be missed.

For more information on upcoming performances by Apex Contemporary Dance Theatre visit apexdance.org.