SUITE at Sugar Space

Along with loveDANCEmore’s Mudson, Sugar Space has become a “go-to” venue for seeing alternative and experimental dance, along with dance film. SUITE: Women Defining Space is another fine example.

Given that the number of female dancers in Utah far exceeds that of male dancers, one could legitimately ask what the rationale of a “women only” dance event is. But the quality of the choreography and dancers is remarkable enough to make SUITE a worthwhile “dance night out.”

The program begins with “Dust Rising” by Krista Di Lello of Body Logic Dance Company. The dance was inspired by Di Lello’s grandmother, who was prematurely put in a nursing home for dementia and drugged, leading to an untimely death. The title refers to dust rising from covered furniture in a no-longer lived-in home. The dance itself features three dancers in ivory gowns defining both themselves and the space they find themselves in through gestures that reflect the traditional feminine as well as the search for a lost self: looking in a mirror, brushing back hair, wrapping skirts into bundles and others.

Courtney Norris’s “Tis a Gift” is a deceptively simple dance set to traditional folk songs, and featuring Norris and Erica Womack. The dancers alternately dance with and without music, remaining intriguingly still while music plays, silently asking if stillness can be considered “dance,” and finish dancing unaccompanied. Womack’s lyricism lights up the dance, while Norris’s polished choreography demonstrates that it truly is “the gift to be simple.”

Aleisha Paspuel contributed two dance films to SUITE. The first, “Shadows,” features three women dancing and playing on the beach by a body of water.  While it explores the topic of defining space, it lacks focus and cohesiveness and was the weakest link in the program.

Paspuel’s second dance film of the evening, on the other hand, is a charming, unique, creative film featuring only the two dancers’ feet and legs, along with a few geese and ducks. In “”Footage” the feet wake up, walk, dance and play in the park, and ultimately tell a heartwarming story about friendship and love. Kimberly Campa and Kristine Keliiliki’s feet “act” better than many Hollywood actors and demonstrate that well-trained feet really can communicate.

Katherine Adler’s introduction as a professional choreographer, “From Walt, to you, from Us,” also explores not only women defining space but women defining themselves through their bodies and movements. Adler’s choreography is challenging and provocative, and her dancing shows a virtuosity and passion that I haven’t seen from her when dancing in others’ choreography.  This piece, which was originally conceived as a dance for one woman and one man, explores feminism from a viewpoint of women being different, but equal to, men. The piece is strong enough that the device of writing and drawing on paper taped to the wall included in the piece serves as more of a distraction than a support for this impressive debut.

SUITE is a wonderful, informal way to become acquainted (or better acquainted) with some of Utah’s best female dancers and choreographers outside of the major dance companies. It will be performed again Friday, June 6, and Saturday, June 7, at 8 pm, at Sugar Space. for more information and tickets.

Sarah Thompson is a retired physician and psychiatrist, as well as a writer and a fan of the arts. Her writing has been published in a variety of magazines and textbooks and she is currently working on a short story and a novel. This review is published in conjunction with 15 BYTES.