Under the direction of Devyn Duex, the dynamic Nebula Dance Lab steps into its second season with Re:Vision, this weekend’s evening-long show at Center Stage Theater. The eight dancers, incuding Duex herself, project an impressive blend of grace and raw energy, and the effect is dazzling.
Emily Tatomer presents two works here. Snapshots is inspired by snippets of memories, and with all eight dancers in sporty, feminine vintage wear in a palette of neutral shades, one can imagine them frozen in faded, old photos. A suite of songs by Nina Simone further sets the tone. The movement is abstract, flowing, bouncy, and eventually incorporates bits of goofiness that hit just the right note of levity.
Tatomer performs in the piece as well, at times sitting on a bench, remembering as she watches the others, and at times joining in. The interaction between dancers is smooth and sweet, with lifts and embraces punctuating their interplay.
Her other offering, Take the Bull by the Horns, returns after debuting at the company’s last show in January. Six dancers in Grecian-looking belted tunics cavort together. They play or perhaps train in combat — on a visceral level, there is a primitive military feel to their movement. Rhythmic clapping and slapping of floor and bodies adds dramatic tension. At the end, dancers make the motion of grasping horns with both hands, then letting go, closing the piece with a breath of lightness and freedom.
Duex’s Sand Into Glass rounds out the program, offering a multilayered experience of dance and theater, and showcasing company member Kaita Lepore, the main character in this heroine’s journey.
Costumes are in reds and purples, satin dresses of varying lengths, lending an interesting blend of sci-fi and fairy tale vibes to the piece. Lepore exhibits not only her skills as a dancer but her acting chops as well, as she is unwillingly dragged to meet face to face with a powerful entity, danced with stern conviction by Tatomer. Their interaction suggests possession of the heroine by something stronger than herself. Then, lying alone and broken, she is revived and rises to dance with the others, this time companionably.
The piece ends in a sweet and satisfying tableau, with Lepore at the front and all the dancers lined up behind her, each leaning forward to rest her head on the shoulder of the one in front of her. The image is of peace, tranquility and belonging. What more do any of us want in life?
The program describes the show: “Dance as perception, memory, sensation.” Nebula’s vision is clear, it backs up this vision with power and artistry.
The remaining performances of Re:Vision are sold out. Click here for more information about Nebula Dance Lab.
— Justine Sutton of Santa Barbara is a freelance writer and frequent Noozhawk reviewer.