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Community Caring Rises Up with Dance Kaleidoscope’s Women Sublime: The Feminist Point of View

by Rita Kohn
October 19, 2019
Indiana Repertory Theatre
140 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 635-5252
Rita Kohn, member: Dance Critics Association, Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild
Dance Kaleidoscope is thrusting us onto a seminal cultural landscape with Women Sublime: The Feminist Point of View, a stirring program by three women choreographers plumbing the depths and heights of life at intersections, dead ends, roads not taken and points of courage to override the insistent voice on google maps.

Is it social, cultural mapping that grips us into accepting abuse; being abusers? Is there something in the double helix that pushes some of us into causing or being at the receiving end of bad relationships that can start at home, in school, on the playground, and then hound us everywhere? Is it people who are supposed to be looking after us, looking away or not wanting to get involved?

Is life truly a circus in pursuit of the perfect balancing act? What we bring with us when we walk into a theater space is as much a part of the performance as is what is happening on stage. Headlines of hatred and abuse on every level of society now hound me more forcefully than when first I moved here and realized I would have to get involved to make true the hype about Indiana being cozy and down home. I learned quickly I wasn’t welcome everywhere, that our original residents were forcibly removed and remain unrecognized, that the KKK simmers beneath the surface ready to flame up and engulf us. As part of my past, the Nazi Holocaust informs my life on every level. Every day I am watchful for my safety, the safety of others; every day I try to reach out with kindness and call out unkindness when I see and hear it happening. I grew up with the mantra: respect yourself, respect others, as a cycle, a circle that, in repetition like a Slinky toy, can be the message in Mariel Greenlee’s “State of Grace”; a work in which her six dancers as three couples pursued to gain a balanced relationship. What’s so hard about being nice to each other, settled in my gut.

Greenlee’s introspective “State of Grace,” which originated in 2015, comes at us betwixt two premieres: Cynthia Pratt’s zesty “Between a Kiss and a Sigh” and Kiesha Lalama’s provocative “Aftermath.”

**And that’s the essence of this trinity of works that invites us to pay attention to what is happening within our concentric circles. The take away for me isn’t just recognizing the strengths I am seeing in our constantly reforming premier contemporary dance company; I walked out the door on Oct. 17, reminding myself to be even more deeply be concerned about the challenges people are facing here and now. Through exhibits and the opportunity for conversation at The Circle Theatre, Dance Kaleidoscope bought attention to ways to be involved with The Eskenazi Health Center of Hope, dedicated to caring for victims of sexual assault and family violence; The Clothesline Indiana, educating us about “the prevalence and nuances of sexual assault” while providing opportunities for all survivors of assault “to share and/or witness stories of assault”, and Families First, a place to turn to for “care, hope and guidance for everyday life or in times of crisis.”

Art has a way of reminding us that we are responsible for what happens in this place we call home. In 1972, when Young Audiences of Indiana developed Dance Kaleidoscope “to bring dance into the public schools,” beyond growing an aesthetic of dance for children in their classrooms, Dance Kaleidoscope presented thematic concerts on the environment and anti-drug abuse.”

Learn more here:
- www.eskenazihealth.edu/health-services/center-of-hope
- women4changeindiana.org/the clothesline
- www.familiesfirstindiana.org www.dancekal.org/touring/touring-education-programs


After attending the opening performance, I re-read the promotional verbiage on the Dance Kaleidoscope website. “My goal,” states Kiesha Lalama , “is to reveal women’s realities after their experiences and to celebrate the positive change that can result from courageous action.”

Cynthia Pratt points to why “Women stepping forward as prominent artistic creators and taking on more leadership roles in the arts” is growing an inclusive societal attitude to affirm us all.

“Helping dancers develop skills and experience as choreographers has been part of the mission for Dance Kaleidoscope. In our ongoing commitment to producing artistic excellence in contemporary dance,” David Hochoy introduced Mariel Greenlee’s work as an example of welcoming the opportunity to showcase the dancers’ new creative directions.”

Essential to this program’s aesthetic excellence is Laura Glover’s lighting, sublime in nuance throughout.

The program synopsis read:

Between a Kiss and a Sigh (World Premiere)

Choreographer Cynthia Pratt has created a darkly humorous commentary on the eternal battle between men and women in romantic relationships. This piece explores fears of vulnerability and commitment, power struggles, and sexual politics while acknowledging the overriding and endless desire for true love.

State of Grace (2015)

Choreographer Mariel Greenlee’s piece features three couples exploring the dynamics and body language of conflict and resolution. Be it directed towards another person or inside ourselves, perhaps all of the “digging” we do may be a search/desire for a more authentic state of grace.

Aftermath (World Premiere)

Choreographer Kiesha Lalama has created a dramatic piece based on the stories of real people who’ve experienced various encounters of assault. Through dance, she shows their struggles, healing, and ultimate empowerment.

Dance Kaleidoscope will tour Women Sublime throughout 2020-2021.

Up next for Dance Kaleidoscope, January 2-12, 2020 on the IRT Upperstage: La Vie on Broadway. Call 317-635-5252 or visit dancekal.org.
Stuart Coleman (center) in 'Aftermath'. Choreography by Kiesha Lalama.

Stuart Coleman (center) in "Aftermath". Choreography by Kiesha Lalama.

Photo © & courtesy of Freddie Kelvin


Paige Robinson, Manuel Valdes, Marie Kuhns and Cody Miley in Cynthia Pratt's 'Between a Kiss and a Sigh'.

Paige Robinson, Manuel Valdes, Marie Kuhns and Cody Miley in Cynthia Pratt's "Between a Kiss and a Sigh".

Photo © & courtesy of Freddie Kelvin


Jillian Godwin and Kieran King in Cynthia Pratt's 'Between a Kiss and a Sigh'.

Jillian Godwin and Kieran King in Cynthia Pratt's "Between a Kiss and a Sigh".

Photo © & courtesy of Freddie Kelvin


Jillian Godwin and Mariel Greenlee (right) in her final show with Dance Kaleidoscope performing Kiesha Lalma's 'Aftermath'.

Jillian Godwin and Mariel Greenlee (right) in her final show with Dance Kaleidoscope performing Kiesha Lalma's "Aftermath".

Photo © & courtesy of Michael S. Drury

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