October 1, 2022
Director and Choreographer: Catherine Messina
Performers: Ashley Cassetta, Emily Hoff, Catherine Messina, Rebecca Neish, Stephanie Shin,
In an abstract medium such as dance, distinguishing a choreographer’s initial idea from their final product can be difficult for an audience. Not so with rogue wave choreographer Catherine Messina’s gap junction. Messina’s first evening length work resulted from research into the neural pathways involved in processing trauma.
In Messina’s work, the movement shares tasks and information between each
performer in an articulate fashion. The production’s program notes depict the process of
how gap junctions connect neighboring cells via channels that allow communication and
the sharing of molecules. gap junction opens with six dancers melting in and out of
braced sculptures, diving into negative space created by interlocking bodies. The
movement is soft and gestural, resembling neurons traveling and sending signals from
one part of the brain to another.
Suddenly, everything changes. Manic music shifts- Connie Francis, the glass animals,
Glenn Miller- create a disjointed score. The dancers begin to impulsively manipulate
one another as they jump, roll and slide along the floor with fierce athleticism.
Movement vignettes scatter and cohesive relationships form just moments before
fracture. While these sections seem outwardly unrelated, continued exposure begins to
illuminate Messina’s intention. The movement mirrors the inner machinations of the
human brain’s designed function; to make meaning from input and order out of chaos.
At times, the choreography becomes overburdened with one too many eye-catching flips or rolls. But rather than being gratuitous, Messina exhibits intelligence through movement choices that continually illuminate her theme. Her choreography is quirky and gestural, serving the choreographic objective while sparking curiosity. Dancers Ashley Cassetta, Emily Hoff, Rebecca Neish, Stephanie Shin, and Emmy Wildemuth master Messina’s intricate, vigorous choreography. Wildermuth stands out for her sequential lava-lamp-esque fluidity and
compelling passion. Messina, also a dancer in the piece, is an exuberant performer whose
expansiveness contradicts her small stature.
In the end, the six dancers gradually draw together again at a slow pace, falling into heavy
embraces. The moment they crumble into a physical heap on the floor, their processing of
trauma is complete.