Addison — All four seasons are not typically familiar to North Texans. Instead of a gradual cycle through various temperatures, we tend toward the extreme. It’s in the middle of blistering heat that imPULSE Dance Project reminds us what the seasons traditionally meant with The Four Seasons: RECOMPOSED at the Addison Theatre Centre’s Studio Theatre. Artistic Director Anastasia Waters uses Antonio Vivaldi’s sonnets that accompanied his composition The Four Seasons as inspiration and sets the work to Max Richter’s brilliant “recomposition” of Vivaldi’s famous work.
Small bare trees sprinkled with white lights sit at the edges of the studio space, and for “Spring,” a green cyc and bright, textured stage greet the eye. Costumes consist of a tan leotard with lace over the shoulders and pants that change with the colors of the seasons.
The allegro invites the dancers to celebrate rebirth and reawakening with sprightly movements juxtaposed against slower, sliding maneuvers. The sleepiness of the largo section brings dimmer lighting with a playful mood, and Ali Mackley particularly shines in this segment. A folksy closing allegro continues the festive mood.
When many people think of summer, images of vacation, swimming, and the jubilation of no school come to mind, but Vivaldi has something different in mind. His impression of the summer months includes references to scorching heat, insects, and volatile weather. He must have visited Texas at some point in his life. Dancers don a dazed, lethargic look, and begin slowly tipping over, with some unable to move, and trudging across the stage. They climb on each other and slide their hands down their faces, depicting the smothering and sticky heat.
Ashanti Williams comes alive during the middle section, in which her paranoia and irritation due to the surround bugs becomes frighteningly apparent with use of strong timing dynamics. The final presto brings in a bass beat, with dancers accentuating the feel of a hailstorm by striking the ground with their hands. Overall, it could be a bit stronger, but it’s a nice change.
Another switch in perception of seasons comes with the advent of autumn, typically a time where the fun ends and the doldrums of school begin, but traditionally it’s been a party with the harvest and the return of cooler temperatures. A balletic folk-style dance with a community vibe opens the section, while the dancers fling autumn-toned leaves on the stage. Another peaceful largo signals the beginnings of hibernation with intriguing floor work and a mesmerizing sense of timing. The last allegro depicts the hunt with the predators and the prey.
Lights turn blue and harsh sounds in the score signal the bite of winter with accompanying shivers of the dancers. Curled in postures and very placed movement combine with nice floor patterns, but the choreography seems very still for such a fast-paced piece of music. The warmth of fire changes the qualities for one dancer in the second section, and the final allegro of the composition adds a bass beat yet again while the dancers slide around as if on ice.
The work lacks a bit of dynamic edge towards the end, and the dancers look fatigued, but it’s an engaging piece. A bit more development and refinement will make it an excellent choice for festival offering in the future.
The evening also featured two other company works plus a guest artist. Waters’ Words on Paper moves the dancers through various vignettes while news reports provide the soundtrack, with weather, military events, and tragic violence making up the bulk of the text. The choreography is calmly deliberate with several moments of stillness. Transitions, however, are weak, and the execution falls a little flat.
Soloist Laura Barbee of Wild Goose Chase Dance performs Susan Douglas Roberts’ Pale Moon. Wearing a light gray dress, she begins her movement before the lights brighten and spreads some feathers in the downstage left corner, a motif that repeats at the end. She never quite focuses on the audience until the end, but her performance is anything but dull. Alluring hand and arm patterns flow seamlessly into a variety of floor patterns, and Barbee’s delicious musicality and ethereal quality create an absolutely captivating picture.
Krista Langford’s danced to pieces shows off more of the company members’ abilities. Set to the European folk-inspired acoustic group Tin Hat Trio, the work is more interesting to watch than the first company offering and has a discernable loose narrative to follow, but it drags on a little too long and throws a few gimmicky moments meant to surprise the audience.
Waters has some lovely movers, and it seems like some of them need to find a greater dynamic range, but that could also be due to the nature of the choreography itself. Overall, the performance is enjoyable to watch.