Saturday, April 05, 2008

Pamela Trokanski Dance Theatre Spring Concert

In the fall of 2005, the Pamela Trokanski Dance Theater presented its “Ephemera” as a work in progress, part of a larger evening of selections. For its spring concert. The PTDT is presenting “Ephemera” as a complete work, approximately 75 minutes without an intermission.

“Ephemera” focuses on the swift passage of time, that our lives seem too short, and that the most important things are often the intangibles. (After 23 years of dance in Davis, one wonders if Trokanski is feeling the swift passage of time herself, and the intangibles which make up the high points of her life.)

The work is based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince,” one section flowing seamlessly into another with no dividing line, save for some voice-over with quotes from Saint-Exupéry which focus on the discussion between the Little Prince and the Fox about friendships, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

The eclectic selection of music is by artists including Lyle Lovett, John Prine, Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson, and others, and is danced by company members Caitlin Barale, Nicole Bell, Bekah Shepard, Nicole Smith, and Pamela Trokanski, with additional guest dancers Maj Hapworth, Allegra Silberstein, Alex Sprague, and Catherine Schwedler.

The opening number, to a tune by Laurie Anderson showed that “dance” is more than body movement, as the hand movements, done with the dancers' backs to the audience, were mechanically precise and a beautiful visual.

A particularly strong section was set to “The Grave” by Don McClean [sic] (“The grave that they dug him had flowers / Gathered from hillsides in bright summer colors”), danced by Bell, Shepard and Smith, depicting the agony of the death of a young soldier (“I know I'm not brave...the earth is my grave...”)

Trokanski has a solo to a Lyle Lovett song which is a testament to the strength of the dancer, undiminished by time.

My favorite part of the 2005 work in progress remains my favorite part of the finished product, though the choreography has changed in the intervening years. It is “Old Friends,” by Simon and Garfunkel, in this production danced by Hapworth and Silberstein as the old friends, with Sprague and Schwedler as the young friends they once were. It is a beautiful salute to lasting friendship and how years melt away when old friends recalls their younger days.

“Death Cab for Cutie,” in which we are told that “love is watching someone die” segues into a song about Trains by Hank Lawson, with the dancers, in Pilobolus-like fashion, becoming a vehicle and move off stage, while Hapworth, Silberstein, Sprague and Schwedler move back and forth across the back of the stage, as trains, dropping off another car each time.

The entire troup reassembles for the finale section, to music by Lyle Lovett, closing off a delightful and often moving performance.

Ephemera: anything short-lived or transitory, lasting but a day. This production lasts but three days, so dance enthusiasts should get to the Pamela Trokanski Performing Arts Center before it disappears completely.

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