Oct 11, 2023
Choreography: Catherine Messina in collaboration with the dancers
Lighting: Catherine Messina, run by Daniel Ricardo Rocha
Dancers: Ashley Cassetta, Emily Hoff, Catherine Messina, Mayu Nakaya, Rebecca Neish, Emmy Wildermuth
Stage lights at The Tank come up slowly, illuminating a floor scattered with rose petals. Like a moving meditation, dancers begin contemplative solos, more petals dripping from their hands. Bouquet arises more than it begins.
rogue wave, founded by Catherine Messina, employs a unique approach to dance making. Using neuroscience as a jumping off point for choreography, Messina combines scientific research with embodied exploration. Inspired by pediatrician and author Dr. Thomas Boyce who classifies children as types of flowers- dandelions (resilient), orchids (sensitive), and tulips (a mix of both)- Bouquet explores the environmental implications that influence our genealogy. While prior knowledge, or even reading the program before the performance, can provide further insight, Messina’s presentation makes that unnecessary. Performers move to their own rhythmic impulses. Overlapping solos emphasize distinct qualitative expressions that illuminate different personality types and highlight individuality within a group. Through a kinesthetic expression of scientific ideas, Messina offers audiences an opportunity to examine the ways in which we are influenced by others.
Athletic dancing coupled with detailed specificity is a hallmark of Messina’s work, as is her use of the floor as both a partner and a platform. Bouquet juxtaposes unison dancing with solo movement, and as dancers break away and melt back into the group, different partnerships materialize and dissolve with kaleidoscopic effect. Costumed in silk shifts of analogous colors, the dancers themselves look like a bouquet of flowers, unique yet in harmony. Soloists are joined by other dancers in varying configurations and Messina builds complex interactions utilizing both supportive and manipulative contact within each partnering series. A propulsive trio between Emmy Wildermuth, Emily Hoff and Messina underlines Bouquet’s main concept: we are influenced by our surroundings. Vigorous partnering emphasizes momentum and the give-and-take within relationships. The three women share weight in complex lifts, mostly Wildermuth and Messina assisting Hoff, and a series of quick, counter-balanced postures give audiences a chance to observe how the support of others is vital to the execution of the group. In a duet between Wildermuth and Ashley Cassetta, movements occur with a different type of dependency. Wildermuth touches Cassetta’s sternum causing her to contract. Cassetta pushes Wuldermuth’s leg, launching her into a walk. In contrast to the weight sharing partner work that came before, this cause and effect duet employs physical manipulation to initiate change. Purposeful rather than aggressive, Messina illustrates the assistive and instigative aspects of relationships and champions the importance of both in shaping who we are and how we interact.
As dancers carry out individual movement patterns in close proximity, Messina affords audiences an opportunity to witness how each performer adapts when confronted with either a similar or different personality type or flower profile. In fact, Messina prioritizes the impact of witnessing as performers periodically stop to observe the interactions happening around them. Rather than judgment, this attention indicates acceptance. In a series of tableaux, each dancer first observes and then inserts herself into the negative space created by the dancer before. Together they create a cohesive whole composed of unique shapes that only together make a complete picture.
In the end, the performers one by one peel away from the group and dive to the floor, for the first time alone and without aid as they frantically gather the strewn petals to themselves. Hoff eventually subsides, staring straight ahead until Rebecca Neish approaches and gently leads her offstage, reinforcing the idea that like a bouquet of flowers, each beautiful and distinct on its own, we are more powerful in combination.