Fall in love, fall from grace, fall over, just ‘Fall’

“Fall,” this semester’s stunning offering from the UAA Dance Ensemble opened last weekend to a full house in the Arts Building Black Box Studio.

“We do modern (dance) and music based jazz,” Katya Kuznetsova, the company’s artistic co-director, said. She began dancing at the age of 8 in her hometown of Magadan, Russia. She is currently an adjunct faculty member with UAA.

“Even if you don’t know anything about dance, come see it,” Brain Jeffery, assistant professor with the department of theatre and dance and the show’s director and choreographer, said. “To me the piece is more about some (of the) primary intentions that center around the idea of ‘Fall.’ I could tag any number of ideas to that; falling down, which is a movement, but also falling in love, falling from grace, falling out of your clothes. There are a lot of different possibilities.”

The hour-long piece loosely encompasses a love story but much of it focuses on a series of vignettes. These contain abstractions of universal themes such as conflict, desire, jealousy, joy, isolation and social pressure.

In one scene a dancer’s body appears to have rebelled against holding her vertical. Like a marionette her joints collapse upon themselves eliciting responses from the other performers.

In another scene three individual spotlights highlight three different couples who violently posture themselves into erotic sculptures while one lone dancer languidly haunts the outer perimeter of illumination watching mournfully.

“I wanted to do something in an intimate setting,” Jeffery said about his decision to hold the performance in the Black Box. Indeed, the audience’s close proximity to the stage allows them to more easily recognize each performer, creating a deep sense of their individual relationships to each other.

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The music included pieces by The Platters, Percy Mayfield, Grand Tourism and Clinic. It is an eclectic collection that complements the on-stage images and leaves the audience unsure of what to expect next. Dancers holding rigid paper-doll poses fill the stage only to burst into reckless gyration with such abandon and freedom that only the fact that they don’t step on or run into one another suggests choreography. These ripples of erratic, crazed twitching and flailing in turn give way to sultry, stylized fluid movements.

The various moods were further enhanced by the gorgeously understated work of lighting designer Daniel Anteau. His evocative designs perfectly accompanied each song from the eerie, ethereal luminescence of swarthy blues to the naked, stark florescence of post-industrial techno.

“I’m still in the process of figuring out the moods of the actions,” Kristine Nishimura Sawyer, the dance ensemble’s artistic co-director, said when asked what she felt the piece meant. “Brian doesn’t like to tell us point blank. He wants us to figure it out on our own.”

“Come with an open mind,” Kuznetsova said. “Everybody is going to get something different out of it.”

“Fall” will be performed in the Arts Building Room 129, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. through Nov. 17. Tickets cost $10. To experience the full effect of the performance it is best to be there when the house opens 20 minutes prior to the beginning of the show.