Interplay

Something of a sequel to Julianna Slager's 2014 work Indwelling, Interplay presents a formidable exploration of the human imagination. The works two main characters, Wisdom and Folly, embody an ongoing debate within the mind and imagination. Exploring concepts drawn from the book of Proverbs and employing an angular, geometric movement style, Interplay is set to be a captivating duel of movement, ideas and emotion. 

Ultimately, Interplay could be a challenging look inside ourselves.

Background

Have you ever felt like there are multiple voices inside your mind? 

It is probably safe to say that most of us have felt like this. At these times, it seems as if your very consciousness has divided itself into multiple characters. These characters are often at odds with each other. They seem to spend hours arguing. They can cause a noisy ruckus inside your head, heart and mind, and that ruckus can lead to a slew of powerful emotions. Not to mention the foggy mental exhaustion. The perplexing variety in perspectives. The confusion. At times, even downright antagonism. 

What if the mirrors and personalities of the mind came to life?

Interplay is a noisy, chaotic, passionate, and even at times peaceful imagining of the animated dialog within the human mind, as seen from the perspective of the characters within it. Inspired by two characters from the book of Proverbs, uses an angular, geometric movement style to personify the captivating duel of ideas and emotion found within the human mind and the human heart. Whether the inside of the mind is like a calculated game of chess, a dizzying house of mirrors, or an intense confrontation between desire and will, Interplay wonders aloud who will end as the conqueror and questions what all could be at stake in the first place. It has been said, "Does not Wisdom call? Does not Understanding raise her voice?" and "The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing...". What do you think? 


And Mercy

One of the many fascinating things about the human heart could be said to be its disposition toward certain feelings, emotions, and suppositions - and that this heart can seem to be blatantly unwilling to consider any other perspective, no matter the insistence of the will. 

Preston Miller's inaugural work for Ballet 5:8, And Mercy premiered at The Beauty of Introspection in September, 2015 and observes one of these suppositions as its theme. Miller, a New York choreographer, is most recently known on a national level for his short film Enemy Within featuring an unlikely group of top performing artists - YouTube sensation Marquese Scott, New York City Ballet principal Tiler Peck, former Alvin Ailey dancer Matthew Rushing, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Samantha Figgins. Inside Ballet 5:8's studios, where Miller created And Mercy in July and August, Miller is known for his intensity as a choreographer and his insistence that every movement, no matter the scale, is performed with a very personal, intentional depth of emotion. 

Early in 2015, when Ballet 5:8 first commissioned Miller's piece, Miller and Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director Julianna Slager had landed on a the concept of judgement as the theme for the work. That is, how many times each day to each of us make judgments and assumptions about the people and situations around us? Often, our estimations are hardly balanced; they rarely take into account a perspective beyond our own, limited viewpoint and selfish prejudices. What of this harsh human reality?  

Mercy

By the time Miller walked into Ballet 5:8's studios to begin work on the piece, over six months later, it had become clear to Miller that judgment itself could not be the sole subject of the new ballet. The work needed to go somewhere. As Miller described it, the progression was natural - and mercy. It could be said that mercy is the antidote to the harsh realities of our suppositions, to all those fears, prejudices, hastily-formed conclusions and unfeeling estimations of the people around us. The conclusion, however, is not ours but yours to make. One of the three featured works in both of Ballet 5:8's Spring 2016 mixed program bills, And Mercy uses three distinctly different movements to illustrate this journey in an athletic, contemporary style that engages the eye in continuous, connected movement emerging seamlessly from the music.


Sigao Ekklesia 

Ballet 5:8 Artistic Director Julianna Slager's Sigao Ekklesia originally premiered at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season. Audience members at the premiere called Sigao “phenomenal” and ”profoundly moving." Why? Perhaps it is because the work uses a relatable and particularly un-balletic movement style to openly wrestle with a topic that is dear to the hearts and minds of many: church. 

Sigao begins with a musical setting, Haydn’s Stabat Mater, that most of us would associate with church, or religion, after hearing just a few notes. The beautiful, at times haunting score evokes thoughts of the regal and magnificent – stained glass windows, expansive cathedrals and the like. The ballet’s challenging juxtaposition, however, becomes apparent as soon as the dancers begin moving. Sigao‘s movements are hardly classical, nor exclusively balletic, employing a raw expression of emotion and contrast through any kind of movement that communicates.

Sigao’s abstract storyline serves as something of a commentary and reflection on today’s Christian church. The work illustrates questions that many of us within – and maybe outside of - church circles have today about church. We may each resonate with different questions reflected in the work, based on our own experiences. However, the end of the story has something to do with the redemptive narrative that originally brought us, in the church, together in the first place - and what a beautiful story that is.