This past Saturday, the Brooklyn-based JKing Dance Company presented its 2014 program, RelinQuish, at the Ailey Citigroup Theater. The matinee and evening performances featured Artistic Director Joyce King's two new pieces as well as her 2013 work, "LISTEn."
The premiere of "Com*part*men*tal*Eyes" (Part 1) opens the program, featuring Assistant to the Artistic Director Danelle Herran, alongside senior dancer Mariko Inoue, and a new addition to the company, Louisa Pancoast. The trio ebbs in and out of fleeting solos, unraveling athletic, gestural movements.Three stools mark their home base to which they return from time to time - sometimes to step on and over, push to a new location, or sit upon, their bodies tense and shaking. Most poignant in this section is the integration of spoken word into the musical accompaniment by Suli Breaks and Max Ritchers; it's rawness and rhythm (think slam poetry) furthers the sharp and abstract quality of King's movement. The words offer context on society's expectations, the irony of standardized exams, the measure through which we judge success.
Following is the premiere of the second section of "Com*part*men*tal*Eyes" - an ensemble piece that highlights King's penchant for props and ability to infuse dance theater amid her technical choreography. The five dancers are unified in their stoic seclusion from one another, perhaps alluding to internal struggle, split personalities, what it means to be an individual. One opens and closes a small wooden suitcase, never sharing with us what's inside. Another snatches a letter that has circulated throughout, ripping it up before settling into a low plié, head swaying side to side as the pieces float to the floor around her. All the while, a dynamic soundscape adds to the mystery, including an original score by Kevin Keller.
Both sections of "Com*part*men*tal*Eyes" will become part of a larger work set to premiere in May 2015. “Our goal is to inspire the audience to examine possible preconceptions about mental disorders,” King comments.
Closing the program is a revival of "LISTEn," a piece that will undoubtedly become a JKing Dance Company signature work. As a reflection on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, this dance interweaves youthful innocence in movement with an individual verses the group theme. In particular, soloist Herran's strength shines in this work - one moment she's struggling with a fork consumed with bodies closing in on her, the next she's leaping off a desk. What "LISTEn" does best is showcase the company's talent through vigorous, full-bodied movement sections that lead to a vivid sense of catharsis by the work's end.
RelinQuish marked JKing Dance Company's third annual season at the Ailey Citigroup Theater. Stay tuned for details on the company's upcoming performances. To learn more about JKing Dance Company, please visit its website and facebook page!