Renay Aumiller Dances: boneGlow
photo by Jen Guy Metcalf
Friday, June 2
Living Arts Collective, Durham
’s dances are tethered to the celestial. As a choreographer, she works to make visible the line that connects us to what’s beyond. I mean this literally: in 2015’s Blood Moon
, performers took turns in a harness system, levitating in a sprawling posture one second, with a grounded dancer supporting the flyer’s body weight, and spinning in release the next.
, which had its premiere
recently as the penultimate performance of Durham Independent Dance Artists’ third season, the four dancers matched up with four metal, gemlike objects that were suspended from a grid of metal tracks on the ceiling of the Living Arts Collective. The performers regarded them with concern and care: they were beholden to these precious stones, made by Raleigh artist Mary Catherine Floyd, though it wasn't immediately clear why. But the sense of mystery didn't indicate a lack of intent. As the dancers activated these objects, they swung like pendulums, zooming in and out of their control. (Aumiller has discussed the pendulum’s back-and-forth motion
as the generative idea, personally and politically, behind boneGlow.
I found the ways in which the dancers regarded and related to one another—alone, in duets, or all together—more interesting. They acted as one another's vectors; even self-contained movements reverberated with someone else’s posture or energy. Their shapes shifted from elegant arcs to pinched tucks as the space between movements itself accrued meaning. Here, a shrug became a gather, the gathered air then tossed over the shoulder like water. There was a preoccupation with leaving things behind: removing unwanted matter and moving on.
It's easier said than done. As two duets tracked each other in diagonals across the stage, one moving mass fell into the tailwind of the other. Their shadows intermingled in the warm glow of the room’s side wall. The play of light in boneGlow
was quietly extraordinary and arrived at just the right moments. As the dancers’ movements slowed to stillness, whether they were clustered around a floating gem or huddled together, their shadows gathered like footnotes, larger than life but not overwhelming the human figure. (Though some of the musical accompaniment—in particular, Son Lux’s “Change Is Everything”—did overwhelm the movement onstage.)
These were highly visible moments in a work that remained partly out of view because of an unideal seating arrangement. Aumiller flipped the Living Arts Collective's stage area from its usual long horizontal to a deep vertical. This also trimmed the stage space's usual width so that the four accomplished dancers sometimes seemed crowded. From the second-to-last row, I could barely make out the floor work at the front of the stage. I hope future iterations of the piece give us a clearer view of the compelling ideas taking shape.