Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of hearing my colleague at St. Ambrose University, Marian Lee and her musical cohort pound out some fantastic French music – sophisticated, complex and still relevant. Interpreting that music, your dancers were absolutely impressive – detailed, crisp, upbeat, easily avoiding any camp in the rompier moments and conveying some profoundly human material with their silent bodies. I’m in love with them!

The program was engrossing for me – art historical references right and left (lots of Madame X in the “Boldini” number); other avant-garde musics filtered through a Parisian, fin de siècle sensibility; handsome costumes (I particularly liked the women’s stocking-shorts that reminded me of “swimming costumes of the 19th Century”), appropriate and informative lighting, etc. One second I was thinking of Stravinsky and Diagalev in a Russian context; the next I was remembering that they were there in Paris influencing and being influenced!

Sometimes it’s hard for me to separate choreographer from dancer since without the physical actuality of a body, choreography remains an invisible idea. But especially in the second half of the program, the choreography was some of the most subtle and inventive I’ve ever seen. There was a fluidity, continuity and near-narrative build-up to happily unpredictable movements that was impressive. The complexity of the music called out for an equal complexity in the dance and it was there throughout the concert and any time you see the human body do something you’ve never witnessed before, you’re a very lucky witness.

My hat is off to Courtney Lyon and Emily Kate Long. I’m beyond impressed. I was genuinely stirred emotionally time and time again as the dances (and dancers) unfolded and told their abstract stories. A beautifully trained body is one thing. But that body moving searchingly through four dimensions is a rare and transcendent experience and that’s the gift you – Courtney and Emily – gave to your audience via your beautiful company.

All the best to Joedy Cook, Margaret King, and everyone else that made this concert possible. I look forward to more transformative experiences in the presence of your creativity. Thank you for making this difficult, complex, and highly successful experience available to me and to the rest of the Quad Cities. I'm still hypnotized!

 

Leslie Bell, Art Professor Emeritus, St. Ambrose University

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