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Bryn Cohn & Artists' Into the Dark a combination of Fierceness and Sophistication

by Emily McNeely
June 15, 2014
Center for Performance Research
361 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
More about Bryn Cohn & Artists at bryncohn.com.
Bryn Cohn & Artists' striking performance of Bryn Cohn's Into the Dark June 15 at Brooklyn's Center for Performance Research combined technical contemporary dance with a haunting dialogue between darkness and light.

Three dark folding screens were placed at intervals on stage. Dancers stood behind the screens, just barely visible. They observed, motionless, as one dancer entered the space in silence. The sound of breath filled the room through the speakers, heavy and strained. It seemed to belong to the dancer onstage, to fill her lungs as she squinted ahead of her.

She was dressed all in black, her abdomen exposed, a high black ruff around her neck. She seemed to be bravely facing some invisible horror.

As the dance continued, the music grew, interspersing piano melodies with electronic beats and the eerie sound of the breath. The dancers manipulated the black screens, folding them over, trapping each other underneath them, observing each other from behind them.

The movement drew the audience out of the comfort of the slow summer evening and into a place of fear and absurdity. At times the dancers were enemies, their fast and athletic movements resembling a fight, and at other times they seemed intensely joined together. In the small performance space the audience could watch clearly as their eyes met, and were captivated by their ever-changing relationships.

The heavy-lidded, inky glances of the striking dancer Yuliya Romanskaya and Bryn Cohn's other talented performers contrasted with the lighting in the theater; a constantly evolving chorus of light and dark. The only adornment was the cluster of string lights at one corner of the stage – the rest was thoroughly and refreshingly minimalist. The shadows of the dancers moved on the white walls, and their dark silhouettes behind the black screens. It evoked a fashionable and extremely appropriate air given the mood of the piece.

As a young choreographer, it seems that Bryn Cohn is off to a promising start. The piece was dynamic, striking, and to use the term her audiences would, most definitely "fierce". But at times, the fierceness of the piece seemed forced and inorganic. Ms. Cohn was perhaps hesitant to let it escape from the "fierceness" she wanted to achieve, and thus manipulated and forced the process of creating an authenticity in certain sections of the piece.

The end of the piece, however, was as authentic and striking as the beginning. The lights and music rose to a profound and heroic place as one dancer was lifted above all the rest, standing on their backs. His gaze rose slowly and he looked into the light. And the piece ended abruptly. As the dancers took their bows, I was still in awe, transfixed at the beauty of that final climb and at the effectiveness of the sudden ending.

For such a young choreographer, Ms. Cohn reached a remarkable level of sophistication through the production of Into the Dark – her work, and her dancers, are truly "fierce" in the way the dance community understands the term.
Bryn Cohn & Artists dancers (From L to R) Adam Wile, Yuliya Romanskaya, Rachel Abrahams and Nik Owens in Bryn Cohn's 'Into the Dark'

Bryn Cohn & Artists dancers (From L to R) Adam Wile, Yuliya Romanskaya, Rachel Abrahams and Nik Owens in Bryn Cohn's "Into the Dark"

Photo © & courtesy of Jaqlin Medlock


Bryn Cohn & Artists dancers (From L to R) Nik Owens, Rachel Abrahams, Adam Wile and Yuliya Romanskaya in Bryn Cohn's 'Into the Dark'

Bryn Cohn & Artists dancers (From L to R) Nik Owens, Rachel Abrahams, Adam Wile and Yuliya Romanskaya in Bryn Cohn's "Into the Dark"

Photo © & courtesy of Jaqlin Medlock


Bryn Cohn & Artists dancers (From L to R) Adam Wile, Rachel Abrahams, Yuliya Romanskaya and Nik Owens in Bryn Cohn's 'Into the Dark'

Bryn Cohn & Artists dancers (From L to R) Adam Wile, Rachel Abrahams, Yuliya Romanskaya and Nik Owens in Bryn Cohn's "Into the Dark"

Photo © & courtesy of Jaqlin Medlock

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