REVIEW: Movemedia I is more than sum of its parts

Cory Finkbeiner

The Grand Rapids Ballet Company teamed with Grand Valley State University and Olivier Wevers to bring the dance and media innovation Movemedia to the Peter Martin Wege Theatre for its first weekend of performances.

Accomplished ballerina and artistic director of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company Patricia Barker welcomed six unique choreographers to work with uninterrupted time and studio space, the end result being a two-weekend exhibition of technique and technology.

Artist-in-residence and Belgian ballet pro Olivier Wevers was the guest of honor and his original piece “This is Not a Raincoat” was the grand finale, and an example of Barker’s vision of futuristic ballet.

It transcended song and dance and became a moving artwork, modern in its uniquely chopped soundtrack and classic in its balletic skill.

GVSU’s own Sean T. Bible presented a thinking piece, a statement. The Movemedia original “Why We Write” was a comment on the diminishing medium of handwriting. Bible equated it to the loss of one’s signature, a part of who we are.

Bible’s “Why We Write” was a dense and thought-provoking step forward for Grand Rapids Ballet, and GVSU-Grand Rapids artistic relations. Bible even provided a cryptic nod to ancient Egyptian manuscript, projecting the performer-written words: “Liquid communication a mixture of water, soot and vegetable gum.”

Bible did his homework, and flexed the advantages of being a professor.

Modern technique-driven Francis Lawrence choreographed “Disconnect,” the opening performance, and performed in “Fragments.”

Lawrence said his choreographed piece “Disconnect” was an abstract look at how one deals with isolation, intimacy, change and rejection, portrayed through five movements.

Lawrence told the audience he wanted to keep the piece abstract so everyone could draw personally indifferent ways.

Lawrence danced in Wevers’ “Fragments” alongside Chelsea Clow. It was a two-person, gender-bending piece with Lawrence performing in a formal dress. The piece was originally written for two women, but Wevers said he cast based on who was right for the part, not sex.

Both of Lawrence’s pieces provoked thoughts of male and female roles.

The innovative spirit of the night would not have been possible without the lighting facilitation of Matthew Taylor and Michael Mazzola. The lighting design was art in itself, art that’s socially acceptable to dance on.

Movemedia’s Program II will premiere April 6 at Peter Martin Wege Theatre in downtown Grand Rapids. GVSU’s Dale Schriemer will perform.