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Anne Mercurio
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Dicapo Opera Theatre
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KDNY Dance's Charges from Domremy - With Arabesque and Attitude, Voices are the Inner Strength

by Anne Mercurio
November 16, 2007
Dicapo Opera Theatre
184 East 76th Street
(Lexington Avenue)
New York, NY 10021
(212) 288-9438
KDNY Dance - Kathleen Dyer, Artistic Director
In celebration of the company's Tenth Anniversary, KDNY Dance presented Charges from Domremy. The 70-minute work is inspired by the historic battles of Joan of Arc, the vibrant teenager who heard divine voices and led French armies against the English occupation of France in 1429. In Kathleen Dyer's version of this story, Joan of Arc, danced by Heather Kemp, is joined by abstracted characterizations of her divine Voices, Burgundians (English Sympathizers) and the French Royal Army she led.

Ethereal voices of a female madrigal choir were precursor to a divine entrance by the first Voices emanating power and intensity. The other Voices join, following a pathway shaped by a series of attitude balances.

Dyer's dancers are beautifully gifted technicians. Charges from Domremy showcased the abilities of the Voices: Hana Ginsberg, Lauren Jaynes and Leslie Simpson as well as the Burgundians: Meredith Clinton, Natasha Czarniewy and Alexandra Rose. Ms. Kemp seemed constricted in the beginning of the first act, the force, articulation and full motion of her dancing appeared once her second cape was removed in the middle of Act I. In succeeding moments, she dove into expressively elongated movement, as if released.

Throughout all three acts over the evening, much time was spent on the imagery of Voices in control and the tortured soul of Joan of Arc. Joan's strength seemed to come from her Voices, not from within her own vocabulary of movement. This may be an accidental comment on Ms. Kemp's interpretation of young Joan, however, I believe it was embedded in Ms. Dyer's choreography that Ms. Kemp needed constant support and help from her Voices even to stand. In various quartets throughout the evening this support was breathtaking. Ginsburg, Jaynes and Simpson deeply danced beauty, purity and form. Ms. Kemp found appealing off-balance partnering with her Voices demonstrating caretaking and aid, as Joan melted into their arms.

In bravely simple choreography, Dyer's militants created an intractable rhythm with their heels interspersed with bursts of action to attack Kemp. Clinton, Czarniewy and Rose retained their demonic glances and angry angles beautifully; with strength and articulation they moved with ease between sharp precision and curving impulses.

Dyer possesses a talent to make the stage pulse at will. She has created sequences where the entire stage vibrates with arabesques, matching composer Richard Einhorn's lift, escalation and intensity skillfully.

In a gorgeous sweep of minimalism, the full cast was onstage swaying gently, like wheat, or the pendulum of a clock – insistent movement creating an overwhelming sense of time passing – when characters were overcome by urgency, explosively interrupting the continually swaying stage, it was striking.

In the final act of the evening, there was an extremely effective lighting choice by Dans Maree Sheehan: a sunset that took the time of solos and a trio of the Voices to enjoin Joan to face her enigmatic future. The overall production was a quality experience, from the stone wall in Act I and holographic set for Act II (Richard Koch and John Farrell) to the full, inspiring voices of sopranos stage right: Michelle Jennings, Lori Engle, Kristen Sharpley and Maria Tardado.
Kathleen Dyer New York

Kathleen Dyer New York

Photo © & courtesy of Lois Greenfield

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