Artistic Director: Finleigh Zack Dance
Dancers: Catheryn Clifford, Rachel Calabrese, Sara Fox
November 3, 2023
Center For Performance Research
Entering the world Finleigh Zack Dance creates during their fall season, “Archives From the Scrapbook” at Center for Performance Research, sparks wonder and zen. Warm, yellow lighting emulates a glowing sunrise around three performers ready to dance down memory lane. Much of Zack’s inspiration derives from a company residency in France during May of 2023, capturing the essence of curiosity, self-reflection, and unlocked memories.
“The recording you hear of birds is straight from the studio in France,” says Zack, during a post-performance Q&A. The opening work, Another Meaningful Moment, is initially unclear in its intent. We watch looseness infiltrate the dancer’s joints as they give in to gravity and melt into the floor. Zack reflects on being removed from interruption and encompassed by nature in France, which most of her memory-book works are inspired by. The dancers mimic each other in quality- free flowing with repetitive movement and breath rhythms. The dance feels like a ritual of processing emotions internally, which is fit for FZD, who describe themselves as a “dance company for the mind.” Zack’s intent becomes clear; Another Meaningful Moment seems as therapeutic for the dancers as it is for the audience.
An interesting aspect of Zack’s work is how the dancers often watch each other, sometimes onstage leaning against the cyc wall and other times while dancing. The constant streamline of silent communication creates a calm and collected atmosphere. The audience visibly sees tension enter and exit the dancers’ bodies.
In a series of self-choreographed solo works during Prologue, each dancer, dressed in a delicate white nightgown, claims an individual song to explore their unique purpose, distinct yet vital to the whole. As church bell sounds echo, blue light creeps over the tip of each white wall. Ethereal and heavenly, the striking visual imagery simulates the French countryside cottage Zack speaks about during the post performance Q & A. “…none of this would be possible if it wasn't for our residency we were able to have this year in France,” says Zack. “Having the uninterrupted time to dive into exploring and experimenting really helped me and the dancers unify the idea of the work and find pockets of the piece that we could play around with.” In an ending moment of front-facing unison, the dancers have seemingly come to a communal resolution.
Challenging dance industry stereotypes, Finleigh Zack Dance uses nonverbal observation and audience connection to highlight the importance of mental health and performing arts. “When [the dancers’] individual artistic voices come together to embody the work, that is when you notice how special the piece is to not just me but to them as well,” says Zack.