Contributed by Marcus Dargan
I found Down Stage Pass as a means to support the multitude of artists that I collaborate with daily. It is all about “Connecting Creatively!”
This week, I am connecting you with two emerging dance artists: Anginese Phillips and A.R. Kadeem, Co-Artistic Directors of Full Force Dance Repertory. I most recently served as the stage manager for their company’s performance of Ascending Flight on August 8-9, 2014; however, I do share a little history with both of them.
I met Anginese several years back when I was the office manager at Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. I initially hired her as an arts administration intern while she was working on her Masters in Dance/Movement Therapy. We would often have conversations on modern dance for which she gave me a lot of insight as much of my artistic experience is not in that discipline. She also fascinated me with discussions on dance therapy and how it related to her personal artistry.
From the sidelines I observed Kadeem’s work with a cast all 55 years of age and older, mostly amateur and semiprofessional singers. It seems that there would be many challenges in choreographing performers within this demographic; however, Kadeem’s approach to devising movement was not labored and the execution was expressive and healing. I would later learn that the healing aspect I noticed within his choreography is rooted in his pedagogy as an artist as he is a practitioner of energy healing.
Full Force Dance Repertory is a harmonious marriage between Anginese’s training in dance/movement therapy and Kadeem’s practice of energy healing. This culminates in the company’s Movement Conversation Groups workshops.
Ascending Flight features Jennifer Gomez a participant of Movement Conversation Groups. She participates in the workshop in order to express herself as a dancer and as “an awesome way to deal with life.” You can view her growth within the workshop in the following video on YouTube.
Jennifer performs a solo movement piece to James Arthur’s “Recovery.” It is an organic and genuine reflection of an intimate conversation we often have in solitude. Jennifer’s solemn hand gestures, sincere expression, and subtle motions are a thing of beauty. She encourages, edifies and nourishes the souls of the audience with the same flow of energy that empowered her during the workshop process.
Another notable work on the performance program is “Hush” inspired by Boko Haram’s abduction of 300 Nigerian school girls. Female company members interpret young woman who experience sexual abuse and violence. Without musical accompaniment the dancers physically communicate through the rhythms of clapping games and step-dancing.
“Hush” is a powerful silence cracked by thunderous stomps, percussive body hits, and challenging imagery. One of the most provocative moments is when two dancers steeped in a pool of bloody light are assaulted by a sea of hands groping, pulling, and caressing. They struggle to deflect the legion, but are defenseless. They submit to the wills of their captors.
The execution of Full Force Dance Repertory’s movement is fluid and tantric. In contrast to the rousing gospel music of “Upon this Rock,” the hectic bustle of a NYC rush hour in “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing,” and the frantic drumming of “The Village Has Been,” dancers maintain a light and grounded gait. It is evident that a controlled, divine force inspires each action.
Ascending Flight is a ritual of restoration and spiritual edification through movement. Full Force Dance Repertory is more than a company of dancers; they are meditative bearers of peace and promise.
For more info on Full Force Dance Repertory