Performing Arts: Dance
May 15, 2016
In collaboration with dramaturge Kay Cummings, choreographer Tiffany Mills and her 15-year- old company create what’s described as an urban dystopia in “After the Feast.” Within the stark space, the performers’ energy and haunted stares achieve a foreboding atmosphere of abandonment, scarcity, and at times, confusion. But, do they exist together? Or is it every man for himself? The sextet frequently bands together only to break apart throughout the work’s nine vignettes, each distinguished by Jonathan Melville Pratt’s original music. His score welcomes softer moments that soon build to more aggressive, percussive sections, are overlaid with techno rhythms, or dissolve entirely to make way for more recognizable sounds – sirens, rain, and an echo of a church organ.

Silence and stillness offer brief interludes within the often full-bodied and sweeping movement. An underlying sense of fury brims throughout, most powerfully embodied in dancer Emily Pope’s technically strong, committed performance.

All the while, a lone brick wall upstage remains a focal point; the dancers are repeatedly drawn to it. They move across it, seek its support, push off of it, and reconnect with one another. It becomes a place of familiarity for them midst an otherwise desolate and unpredictable landscape.

Mill's aesthetic is best captured in bouts of partner work and other intertwined movement interactions. The dancers appear to unravel at points in what resembles contact improvisation. Other moments highlight smoothly choreographed shifts of weight, leading to fleeting and occasionally bizarre positions, lifts, and suspensions – apropos for this world. By the work’s end it is clear we’ve witnessed a journey. But where we’ve arrived or if, in fact, anything at all has changed is a lingering uncertainty.

The world premiere of “After the Feast” was presented as part of La Mama Moves! 2016 Dance Festival.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Jenny Thompson

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