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Sunday, March 03, 2024

'Antigone' impresses and disappoints in equal measure

Kanopy Dance presented “Antigone” this past weekend at the Overture Center for the Arts. The show featured five main pieces. This first act was composed of pieces choreographed by members of Kanopy’s company and their current guest artist Maureen Janson, while the second act brought back two pieces choreographed by the Kanopy Dance directors, Robert E. Cleary and Lisa Andrea Thurrell.

Kanopy Dance has a widely known reputation for a well-trained company and highly artistic pieces, both qualities that this show possessed. As usual in a dance show though, there were some dances that stood out and others that fell behind.

Two numbers stood out from the pack as some of the better dance pieces I've seen performed in Madison. The second piece in the show, “The (Possible) Ending,” choreographed by company member Yuko Sakata, was an audience favorite. This piece stood out for a number of reasons, the most notable being the exquisite exhibition of the dancer's technique. This was one of the few dances in the entire work that truly showcased the mix of style and technique that dancers in professional companies must have. Along with the technical elements, the dance was stylistic and musical, as well as sharp and clean, a detail that really stood out in comparison to some of the other dances, which were somewhat messy and distracting.

Maureen Janson’s guest piece, “This! (Part 3),” also made a great impression. In her pre-show discussion, Maureen mentioned that her piece featured bright colors and modern vocabulary mixed with classical music. Her goal was to combine the dancers’ ballet technique with a modern twist, which is exactly what came of it.

The interpretation of Mozart, usually paired with a highly balletic piece, contrasted perfectly with the energy of the choreography and the excitement of the dancers. The greatest bit about this piece was the comedic factor of dancers almost making fun of themselves. Rather than use their wonderful technique, the choreography used small changes in proper form to add to this comedy. The interpretation of the music mixed with the brightly colored costumes and the energy on the stage made for a wonderfully enjoyable closing to the first act.

The opening work of the show, “Gracefall,” choreographed by Tiana Ching Maslanka, was smooth and interesting, telling a chronological story and using props, but its downfall came in the lack of sharpness and the togetherness of the piece. It seemed as though some dancers were confused or just unfamiliar with the piece, which took away from the entertainment a bit. It was still enjoyable, but a bit distracting. The concept was present and interesting, and the music was wonderful to listen to in connection with the dance, but it did not stand out as a presentation piece.

This was similar to the last two numbers of the show, “Water Music” and “Antigone.” In “Water Music,” the dancers were well connected to the piece and the interpretation of the music was extremely interesting, but there seemed to be too many distractions in the piece to pay attention. The costumes made it very hard to see the movement of the dancers and the male in the piece seemed useless. This theme continued into “Antigone,” with strong males not being utilized. While feminine dancing is beautiful and smooth, it can be advanced so much with the proper use of a powerful male dancer. Instead, “Water Music” and “Antigone” both ignored their assets.

As a whole, “Antigone” had a mix of strengths and weaknesses. The dancers performed wonderfully, but certain pieces truly shone while others fell behind.

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