Finleigh Zack Dance
Another Meaningful Moment
Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center, Gibney Dance Center
Jan 20, 2023
Director and Choreographer: Finleigh Zack
Performers: Catheryn Clifford, Sara Fox, Rachel Calabrese
New York City has a rhythm all its own- quick, syncopated, busy. It is a city that seems to be in constant motion- subways zooming by underground, sidewalks packed with pedestrians walking with brisk purpose, always something to do and somewhere to be. But at Finleigh Zack Dance’s presentation of Another Meaningful Moment, calm permeates the theater. Everyone is invited to slow down, reflect, and turn inward, not as a means of escape, but rather as an instrument of awareness. Centering her work around mental health, Zack explores the healing powers movement possesses, translating her choreography as a pathway to inner peace.
Experiential rather than didactic, Another Meaningful Moment feels like a collective exhale. Textured and hypnotic, performers Catheryn Clifford, Sara Fox, and Rachel Calabrese sway imperceptibly, shifting their weight across the soles of their feet in search of equilibrium. Each dancer begins walking slowly on their own pathway. Soothing words accompany the minimalist movement and a guided meditation begins. Connected to the earth, Zack’s movement style is airy, ebbing and flowing like a gentle wind.
Zack highlights individuality through solo moments and movements that visually connect and complement, suggesting community. There is an art in finding balance on one's own feet and the idea of individuality within a supportive system emerges. When dancers make physical contact, it is with care rather than force. Arms and fingers entwined like snakes, Fox and Calabrese explore the topography of each other's skin in a sensual duet, anchoring themselves in space. Bombarded daily by the media with violent, intrusive aspects of physical contact, Zack and her dancers remind us how healing touch can be.
Another Meaningful Moment takes the idea of movement as healing even further, presenting the idea that motility can be therapeutic for not only participants, but spectators as well. Upon entering the theatre, every spectator is given a small journal to record their reflections. Viewing the dancers as they explore various points of connection- head to torso, side of foot to floor, chest to chest- we are given the unique chance to conjure similar sensations within our own experiences, and thereby ground even more into our own bodies and into the present moment. The house lights remain on, fostering inclusivity and connection in a unique way. Beyond hypothesizing her ideas, Zack tests her theory in an audience talk back after the performance. The willingness of strangers to share their thoughts and feelings is proof that Zack is definitely onto something.
While the craving arose for more erratic movements that would indicate a predictable narrative of mental unrest calling to be soothed, fulfillment is found in repetition and calm. Viewing mental health through Zack’s eyes, familiar gestures emphasize a regimen of essential self-care, regardless of the current texture of one’s inner terrain. As the dancers hold a hand to their hearts, taking deep, visible breaths, everyone in the room is reminded to breathe as well.