In many cities it can be difficult for emerging and independent artist to find a venue to have their work shown unless they put on their own evening length concert, something daunting for one artist to conceive of. Luckily, Salt Lake City has many opportunities for the emerging and independent artist to have their work showcased—from Mudson to the Sugar Show. This weekend the Sugar Space offers another opportunity for emerging, independent artists to be seen in SUITE: Women Defining Space. SUITE, an annual series that supports emerging women choreographers, opened last night. The series is meant to serve as space in which the choreographer can grow and create new work. This year’s concert showcased Cortney McGuire and Leah Nelson of fivefour, Erica Womack, and Laura Blakely, chosen out of a pool of applicants based on their idea, vision, and history of achievements. Each of the participants created a new work running 15-30 minutes long. Sugar Space provides each choreographer with ten hours of free rehearsal space, marketing and production support, administrative oversight, and other aid related to producing a concert.
SUITE opened with the piece sure, ok…bye by Cortney McGuire and Leah Nelson and included a variety of sections all revolving around the concept of social connectedness. The disjointed nature of digital social media was a theme in this work. One of the sections included dialogue that seemed to imitate various forms of digital social connectedness, i.e., status updates and tweeting. While this section was interesting, because of the disconnected nature of both the spoken word and the movement, the movement seemed to still revolve around one type of aesthetic, making it more coherent, rather than less. The piece was interesting throughout—taking requests from the audience for hold songs, talking to one another through tin cans, and on the spot choreography—but the sections didn’t seem to fit together completely, not yet. The intention of the piece may have been to be disjointed, but if so that theme could be taken farther, developed more.
In Laura Blakely’s Chipped Porcelain, the lights come up on Blakely with her dress pulled partially over her head. As the piece continued, this motif was repeated, embedded within the dancing, along with other intriguing images such as eating her dress, and stirring her “tea” with her belt. These memorable moments never seemed to develop, but to only to repeat without changing, yet they seemed to hold the essence of the dance within them.
The final piece, The Promise of a Daydream, included a wide spectrum of aesthetics within a singular work. While much of the piece still seemed to be in progress, the final section was striking. The single male dancer, Efren Corado, brings a boom-box on stage and pushes a button signaling the music over the loudspeakers. While this was disconcerting at first, i.e., why have a boom-box on-stage and still use the overhead speakers, this was soon forgotten. As Cat’s Cradle, by Harry Chapin plays, Corado begins a solo which, at first, seems unremarkable. However, after a few moments, Corado stops dancing, restarting the music and his solo. He does this again. And again. And again. By the fourth repetition, the solo in conjunction with the music begins to make its own meaning, about parenthood, about journeys, about life. And then the piece ended, just when it seemed to begin.
As a whole, SUITE has a lot to offer in terms of bringing emerging female choreographers to the forefront. It is worth seeing for that reason alone—but also because there are some beautiful, thought-provoking moments in each piece.
Rachael Shaw is graduating any day now with her M.F.A. from the University of Utah.