Choreographer Anna Myer combines elements in her dances that have no business being together — classically trained modern dancers and rap poets, teen hip-hoppers and professional cellists, basketballs and an orchestra conductor. That the dances succeed as well as they do represents a kind of willed alchemy: Myer, and her team, believe so fervently in their intent that even when they fumble you catch glints of gold.
Last night’s “Hoop Suite” (2012) is a case in point. Created in conjunction with The North American Family Institute’s Youth Link division, which supports inner-city teens, the piece — set to Jakov Jakoulov’s now-atonal, now-percussive score (including b-balls’ slapping and cellists’ tapping) — melds all of the above in a 40-minute plea-cum-cry for an end to violence and permission for youth to bloom.
“There is no way to prepare for this/ How the heart is a constellation of stars,” intones one young man. Arms become guns or broken wings, sternums arc to the sky, fists thrust downward, and sneakered feet zig then zag, sending limbs jolting or slowing to a crawl. The voices ring in counterpoint to the instruments’ strings: “Once you are frozen and thawed, frozen and thawed . . . there will always come a moment when you crack,” states a young woman. Yet ultimately, she says, she is “left with no other choice but to see myself and forgive.”
There is anger, but it is muted — processed for display. The community on stage, born of the shared struggle to create, cannot be denied; yet segments sound Pollyannaish, even amateurish. “Hoop Suite” is a work in progress, as much an act of healing as a performance event. The project goes on tour, and then repeats itself — drawing in an even larger group of teens. The piece was originally performed in a basketball court in the inner city. Likely its reappearance there, next year, will resound with even more authenticity.
Also on the program was the premiere of Myer’s “Hindsight Now,” set to a score for four violins and four cellos by Igor Tkachenko.
Here the performers were Myer’s eight technically acute dancers, one caught by another, or arms raised overhead like fiddlehead ferns. They are cast against Abelardo Morell’s giant photo projections. But again, the parts don’t quite add up to a whole: Their organic reason for being never quite jells.
Thea Singer can be reached at email@example.com.