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Elisa Monte Dance:
Movement as an
Artistic Political Force

Photo Credit: Steve Pisano

By: Sophie Wilkes

On November 24th, Elisa Monte Dance put on a three part show, entirely unique in its production. The movements were titled “Tilted Arc,” “Emerged Nation,” and “Kinetic Kinship.” Though they drastically differed stylistically, the dancers all carried the same level of impressive passion and skill throughout the performance. Choreographed by Tiffany Rea-Fisher, (Artistic Director of EMD), the dances produced a warm and inviting atmosphere for its audience, while also exemplifying the  talent of the performers and experimental nature of the routines.

The first of the three movements, “Tilted Arc” represented a wider array of art than simply dance. Named after the  public sculpture by Richard Serra, the movement symbolized not only the piece itself, but also the controversial themes it left behind after its removal. The original Tilted Arc once resided in New York City’s Foley Square, but was eventually displaced in 1989 because of its obstructive qualities. Following this theme, this dance represented the sculpture itself, as the 8 dancers traced where the sculpture once was, delving into the very meaning of “obstruction.” The dance also introduced political issues such as immigration and the emotional weight of separation, as the performers performed a piece of New York City’s art history.

Photo Credit: Steven Pisano

After such an emotional piece, the music began to intensify, and the lights that once shone dramatically, turned fuschia. Such was the setting of the show’s second movement, “Emerged Nation.” Similar to the movement prior, this dance carried political and social themes throughout as well, particularly the assimilation that Black and Native American people experience in the United States. Using choreography and a wide variety of music (tribal, house, and electronic), the dancers exemplified the cultures of these groups in a contemporary setting. Though struggle is ever-present for these groups, the performers of EMD showed the uniqueness of these cultures. .

To finish off the trio, “Kinetic Kinship” twisted the tone of the show once more. Instead of music creating an atmospheric backdrop, the dancers performed to the sounds of New York City streets. Moving from different areas and neighborhoods, the sounds varied throughout the piece, as dancers came together and apart. The movement exemplified the every-day experiences of New Yorkers, while showing off the talent of the dancers in an individual, modern way. EMD used the open and warm setting  to create a movement representative of such an intricate city, presenting cultural and social diversity through the movements of eight different people.

Photo Credit: Steven Pisano

As a whole, the three movements of EMD’s show came together and shone as brightly as their seperate parts. The show makes it clear that the environment is comfortable for both the performers and audience; for example, they request that the audience members clap if they see something they like in the moment. There is something uniquely modern about the experience, as EMD clearly has embraced the benefits of tradition and evolved to fit contemporary life and dance.

Sophie Wilkes is a New York University student and contributor at Honeysuckle Magazine.

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