Leverage Dance Theater

Review: Sketch

Excerpts from Jessica Ruhlin, blogger and dancer



The show is held in the Chapel – a sanctuary for the arts– which I found only because I was lost and figured that if I wandered into a church, someone would surely help me. The space is small and intimate yet the ceilings are high and embellished with colored stain-glass windows. There is a strange connection to the feeling of divinity right along with an almost uncomfortable ’in-your-face’ quality with the dancers as the audience is seated on the actual dance floor. In that

proximity, it is unavoidable to not form a kinship or relationship of sorts with the two dancers.

It is interesting to have Sketch first, Nine second because we are getting the picture first, the context second. Also, the dance was created after reading the play says Fischer [choreographer]. She says she wanted each piece of art to stand alone, for the dancing to perhaps offer a counterpoint to the text. If you’ve ever read books to children, you’ve heard, ‘show us the picture!’ We all want the images- it helps to form a grounded reality and is a kind of cheat in telling us what to think.It’s kind of fun and challenging to have it in reverse, the picture and then the story.

This is one reason that I really enjoyed Sketch. It is all of those things that I mentioned; conceptual and spatially conscious but is done in a way that creates a progression of time through smart lighting, shifts of focus and level, and there it is- the relationship between the two dancers. And in this case, I do mean dancers. This is movement that serves a narrative purpose but is still executed by Fischer and fellow dancer, Elodie Andrews, with fluidity, precision, and grace. There were some nice interchanges of weight and support, fascinating use of manipulation and repeated phrase, and the use of level change created a dynamic suggestion of power play. There were a few moments of disconnect in timing and in details such as the amount of contraction in the spine but it’s hard to tell when such differences are choices and clues to the context. I will just have to wait and see how it compliments or contrasts the play.

There are moments within the dance where text is used; phrases, questions, commands that stick out because the element of speech is for the most part, as stripped away from the movement as movement is likely to be for the chained actresses, using mostly words. Just as curious as I am to further dissect those chosen phrases heard in Sketch, I am curious so watch the slivers of body language in Nine. It will be interesting to hear and see the full story, the separate entities, and how they relate to each other.

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A Modern Dance Collective in Saint Louis, Missouri.