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Bonnie Rosenstock
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Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater
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New York, NY

JKing Dance Company's Thinking Out Loud Speaks to the Unspoken

by Bonnie Rosenstock
May 9, 2015
Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater
405 West 55th Street
New York, NY 10019
What is your biggest fear? That is the question that Joyce King, founder and artistic director of the Brooklyn-based all-female JKing Dance Company, strives to answer, expose and unburden in Thinking Out Loud, a thought-provoking hour plus performance program of new and revised works.

The opening piece, "UnEarth Verify" is excerpted from "LISTen" (2013, revised 2014), which was performed by 10 second-year ballet trainees from the Joffrey Ballet School in Manhattan. (The Joffrey Ballet itself relocated to Chicago in 1995). King teaches at the school and is committed to nurturing young dancers and affording emerging artists an opportunity to perform. The theme, according to the press notes (but not cited in the program), is a reflection on the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting and its aftermath. The dancers are attired in gray, and a single red balloon on a string is passed on to various performers to highlight their dance. The youngsters, halfway through the four-year program, did a credible job with the demanding choreography.

"Com.Part.Men.tal.Eyes" depicts the dividing of self in order to cope with a traumatic experience. The five-section 30-minute work opened with "Audible Secret," a solo by the marvelous Danielle Mondi. She first appears draped across a desk, clothed in a long flowing dress. When she awakens from her recollections or nightmare, her expressive movements and body language signal her distress. There are three empty stools spaced apart behind her, which she moves to center stage and dances around, on and bumps into. She is setting the stage to relive, recall and recount her worst formative fears.

"Awareness" introduces the "family": the stern and businesslike "father" (Danelle Herrran) carries a briefcase and commands the stage with powerful dance movements; the kind, doting "mother" (Ayumi Uchida) elegantly dances with a scarf and gives a white flower to her innocent young "daughter" (Brittany Posas). The briefcase, mostly held onto by the father, is the keeper of secrets—it is opened, closed, fought over, passed around, searched through for clues or validation. In the section "A-Parently Normal" all is not so normal as "daughter" (Constance Nicolas Vellozzi) manifests bizarre behavior; she wipes the floor in a frantic, repetitive way and shreds up papers from the desk, which she strews all over the stage. In a duet, her "mother" (Katarina Lott) thrashes her. Lott is tall and blonde, and Vellozzi is short, squat and brunette. Both dancers are earth-bound; i.e., they are not elegant dancers, nor were they as effective dramatically as the harrowing scene demanded.

The last section for five dancers, "Acceptance," ends with Mondi clutching the briefcase with a look of both resolve and uncertainty. But we are rooting for her.

"Per.cept.Shun," King's newest work, under development (just finished the day before for the show, she said), is also a five-parter in which hidden conflicts are literally veiled. It is a marvel that the dancers deftly performed such intricate choreography with their faces, heads and arms swathed in blood-red stretch material. They also used the fabric to envelop their torsos or to span out to create wings. There are several well-danced duets and a full company finale. The original music by Zoe Keating is a mosaic of alternately slow, melancholy and lyrical, fast and driven, with the choreography as a collaborative equal.

On her website publicizing the program, King quotes a passage from the movie "Coach Carter" (2005), which references spiritual teacher and author Marianne Williamson's book, "A Return to Love," in response to the question of fear. It says, in part, "[A]s we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence liberates others."

King is recognized for multi-nuanced abstract and literal choreographic story telling, which seek truths that liberate. In that quest, she is fearless.
JKing Dance Company dancers in 'Per.cept.Shun.'

JKing Dance Company dancers in "Per.cept.Shun."

Photo © & courtesy of Jaqi Medlock

A JKing Dance Company dancer in 'Per.cept.Shun.'

A JKing Dance Company dancer in "Per.cept.Shun."

Photo © & courtesy of Jaqi Medlock

JKing Dance Company dancers in 'Com.Part.Men.tal.Eyes.'

JKing Dance Company dancers in "Com.Part.Men.tal.Eyes."

Photo © & courtesy of Jaqi Medlock

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