Lewisville — For the fourth year, imPULSE dance project brought Snow to the MCL Grand Theater in Lewisville for an evening-length holiday performance. The show consisted of five ensemble works intermingled with transitional solo sections performed by Abigail Maharaj.
Opening the night in a burst of energy, Maharaj circles around the space with an outstretched arm towards the audience members in her first solo choreographed by Artistic Director Anastasia Waters. Inviting the viewers in with her open palms, arcing arms, and outward focus, Maharaj sets a joyous, excited tone for the evening.
Her solo transitions into Reach (2016), choreographed by Sandra Pudasaini, as three other dancers also clothed in pure white, tank dresses join in the upbeat affair. They follow Maharaj’s circling and spiraling into partner work that relies on the push and pull relationship amongst the dancers. Dancers alternate falling and catching their partners while moving in and out of a series of tight embraces. Here, the theme of interdependency and relationship emerges as the performers struggle to find a balance between independence and togetherness.
These embraces soon give way to a Maharaj’s next solo full of attitude turns, circling arm arcs, and falling side-bends. Her peppy movement transitions into Homespun Wonders (2014), choreographed by Krista Jennings Langford. Expanding on the concept of relationship, four dancers shift into multi-leveled formations and spatial patterns. The undulation of their spines lead them across the performance space and their twisted bodies pull them to the floor, only to roll into a leg swing that propels them up once again. Their quick transitions and energetic gestures brighten the atmosphere, yet contrast with the mellow beat of the music.
Choreographed by Kristin Daniels, HumanKIND (2015) features a new set of dancers who reach out to audience members with stretched fingertips and sharp arms, but do not fully break the fourth wall as they remain within the perimeters of their performance space. Beautifully articulated battements yield to spirals that pull the performers into the floor, up into balletic leg extensions, and out into upper body stretches towards the audience. Recalling the catch and fall partnerships of the first section, the dancers resurrected the more serious tone from the beginning of the evening.
As the lights change from friendly blue to a deep purple, Maharaj returns to the stage in an emotionally charged solo that slows the constant motion of the previous quartets into a slower paced floor work section. Shadows of her deliberately bowed arms and her elongated leg extensions are cast upon the walls of the recital hall while Maharaj twists her hips and undulates her torso delicately along the ground.
Breaking from the spellbinding quality of Maharaj’s solo, the final quartet, Castles are Built (2016), choreographed by Waters, floods the stage with the introduction of props—a small Christmas tree and a box of string lights wait offstage until they are thoroughly investigated by each dancer. The group fawns over the tree as they laugh and smile while fixing branches, jumping with glee, and hugging one another. The lighthearted tone is carried through one dancer who dives head first into the box of lights and proceeds to tangle them playfully around her limbs. With sharp, angular arms and sprinkles of flexed feet, the dancers move away from the circular influences of the beginning sections and embody a quirky, childlike quality.
After they complete the tree decoration to satisfaction, the quartet leaves the stage in a giddy rush, making way for Maharaj to prepare the audience for Waters’ final section: In the Midst (2014). In the upstage corner of the stage, she plays in a flurry of white rose petals mimicking fresh falling snow. Her tilted attitude turns and spirited arm reaches send her into a wintry frenzy. During her exploration, the entire twelve-member cast slipped onstage to join in the magic. Dancers meet head to head and shoulder to shoulder as they melt into each other and into the ground. They rocked back and forth in soothing unison until they form two diagonal lines and leave Maharaj to finish the piece with strong, steady walks offstage.
The clever interweaving of solo/ensemble sections that built Snow became predictable as the show neared the end. Perhaps this was due to the monotony of the musical accompaniment. However, the post-modern movement style took several shifts throughout the evening and hosted a variety of ideas, themes, and emotions. Through Snow, Walters created a dreamlike atmosphere that blanketed the audience in a comfortable complacency that revealed the importance of unity, relationship, and kindness throughout the holiday season.