Louie Cornejo, Misa Kelly and Kerstin Stuart

At Diavolo Theater, April 5, 2008

June 2008: Volume 7/Number 6

The seven dance performances showcased by 3 Cities: 3 Choreographers shared an allusive, perplexing beauty. Though diverse in background and training, choreographers Misa Kelly, Kerstin Stuart and Louie Cornejo seem equally interested in poising dance at the intersection of the choreographer’s intellectual satisfaction and the spectators’ viewing pleasure. The result, while as varied as their creators, made for an evening of dance that was lively and at times unsettling, but always visually alluring.

Misa Kelly, Artistic Director of SonneBlauma Danscz Theatre, opened the evening with choreography that referenced marionettes, gymnastics and yoga, while interspersing compulsive scratching, percussive footwork and out-of-control bodies that twitched and crawled in circles on the floor. Kelly’s pieces – especially Nadar Sabe Mi Llama el Agua Fria – explored the coexistence of athletic genius and disability in the same body, while maintaining an insistence on aesthetic appeal.

Kerstin Stuart’s choreography brought viewers’ attention to a precise focus by using articulation and gesture as building blocks for larger stories about human nature. Bent fingers, cocked feet or a gaze held slightly too long all demonstrated how the body speaks articulately even when words fail. Her lengthy piece Zu-sam used one couple’s interpersonal dynamics to pose gestural, rhetorical questions about the nature of longing. Why, Stuart seemed to be asking, does wanting more from a relationship make one feel grotesque?

Louie Cornejo’s Weathering used nine dancers to tell a story about the construction and erosion of landscapes and relationships over time. The dancers entered the stage carrying stones which they placed around the periphery of their movement; then they exploded in frenetic activity, collapsing, supporting each other, and disappearing off the edge of the stage – only to return again later. As rocks passed from one hand to another, Cornejo seemed to be asking us if emotions might weather our lives just as the elements weather mountains into pebbles.

Rebecca Joly lives in Santa Monica where she writes about yoga, art, and science fiction.

By Rebecca Joly

Photography by: Am Wu

Misa Kelly