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They say: “From ancient Egypt to modern day Austria, Bowen Macaulay Dance explores the environmental influence on movement and movement choice in both Afoot in Vienna and in the theatrically-arresting Fire and Air, based on the final act of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra.”
Cara’s Take: This performance is short. The two pieces take up slightly more than thirty minutes, with the bulk of the time belonging to Afoot in Vienna, the second piece danced.
The opening dance is titled Antony and Cleopatra and adapted from William Shakespeare‘s play. The piece begins with Cleopatra (Lucy Bowen Macauley, who also choreographed both works) sitting on one side of the stage while Marc Antony (Alvaro Palau) dances a brief solo. Their inspiration is a line in Act V of the play: “I am fire and air; my other elements I give to baser life.” Macauley’s Cleopatra has verve and vividness, but her movements, often stylized with squared arms to look hieroglyphic, are grounded and fluid. This dance is set within her tomb at the moment of her suicide. Cleopatra’s servants, Iras and Charmian, are preseent, which gives an opportunity for pas de trois. The attendants support her, physically as well as figuratively, as Cleopatra is bitten by the asp, suffers, and dies. Upon their departure, the spirits of Antony and Cleopatra reunite with a lovely pas de deux. The sound mix was sometimes overpowering during this piece, which distracted from the movement.
The second work, Afoot in Vienna, used six young dancers abstractly. The movements are based on the textures Macauley’s feet encountered at several settings in Vienna, Austria. These encounters were filmed, and those films are projected onto two scrims behind the dancers for a slightly offset, dreamy effect. The dancers sometimes mimic the movements projected, but they will also expand on them or anticipate them.
The final section takes the dancers onto the stairs in the audience. The sight lines are often difficult for this section, even if, as I was, you’re sitting on the aisle. On the other hand, allowing us to see the dancers’ technique up close was a risky choice for a choreographer to make, and it pays off. The sweat told me that dance is hard work, but the movements always looked effortless.