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Stephen Pelton Dance Theatre's Lauda Adrianna Finds Beauty in the Melancholy

by Joanna G. Harris
March 25, 2016
Dance Mission Theater
3316 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 826-4441
Joanna G. Harris Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
Stephen Pelton is a London-based American dancer and choreographer who up until recently was a resident of San Francisco. As such he has been able to gather a company of dancers who represent both dimensions of his outreach and joined them together in Lauda Adrianna, a moving work to the beautiful music of composer Gavin Bryars. Stephen Pelton Dance Theatre performed the work March 24-26, 2016 at San Francisco's Dance Mission Theater.

Pelton cites his impetus for Lauda Adrianna as a need to remember two persons, a friend and a cousin, to whom the work is dedicated. As such, Lauda Adrianna reaches the audience as a series of lamentations, using extensive floor work, consisting of amazing falls and recoveries, crawling and resting on the knees, crouching and rolling. The movement phrases follow one another, sometimes in cannon form, sometimes as solos that become duets and trios, while members of the group sat on benches (mourner’s benches?) and watched. The entire 45-minute work flowed like endless tears.

All the dancers were brilliant, but Freye Jeffs from the UK was the outstanding soloist beginning and ending the piece with gorgeous fluidity and concentration. Her range of movement was unbelievable and her focus and emotional projection were sincere and very moving. Joining her were Peiling Kao and Arletta Anderson, both brilliant San Francisco dancers. Chad Dawson and No Simonse have appeared previously as members of Pelton’s dance group and have been seen in concerts with other Bay Area groups. Both men contributed their extraordinary technique and ensemble skills to this work.

A large "rose" window (which changed color occasionally) above the dancers was the only set. Derek Duarte was responsible for the stage design and lighting. The technical director was Harry Rubeck and the lovely sound design, religious 14th century songs for soprano and tenor, adapted by Gavin Bryars, was by Justine Fernandez.

It was good to have the Stephen Pelton Dance Theatre back in the Bay Area even for this short time. Some of us, perhaps, will travel to Glasgow, Edinburgh and London to follow this talented choreographer and his group wherever they perform next.
Stephen Pelton Dance Theatre's Freya Jeffs in <i>Lauda Adrianna</i>.

Stephen Pelton Dance Theatre's Freya Jeffs in Lauda Adrianna.

Photo © & courtesy of Sean Purser

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