Brian Books Moving Company performs at the PAC
By Caroline Pain
Nov 11, 2014
Pieces of light blue, pink, and yellow fabrics are floating in the air. The dancers are trying to keep them from falling by moving boards under them. Moving in slow motion, the pieces of fabric are dancing in the air, like clouds gently drifting away. The piano stops and the spotlights are turned down, leading to the next piece.
The Brian Brooks Moving Company performed for a full house on Sunday Nov. 2 at the Lab Theatre in the Performing Center of Arts. Ever since its first national tour in 2002, the company has produced several works and has been touring throughout the United States and the world. The director, Brian Brooks, has been rewarded with several fellowships in the past few years, and has collaborated with many prestigious schools and colleges such as Julliard.
The performance was composed of five pieces, including Brook’s solo “I’m Going to Explode” and a duet entitled “Motor” that he performed with another dancer of the company. In the three other pieces, the eight dancers showcased their amazing abilities.
In the first piece, “Descent,” the dancers jumped in each other arms with an impressive confidence. The more the pace of the piano sped up, the more intricate their dance became. The dancers all ran into each other in a sort of organized anarchy.
“Inspiration does not come from dance itself,” said Brooks. “Things start happening when you loose yourself, when you stop thinking. And then, you just have to believe that symmetry and design will happen.”
His own solo was the following piece, which embodied the constant questioning choreographers go through.
“It was a real personal breakthrough for me. When I first did this solo, I stopped the choreography and let it go,” said Brooks. “I allowed myself to improvise because I think it is important to let the performance be part of the dance and of the creating process. On top of that, I have been doing this solo for seven years, it is very interesting for me to see how much I changed.”
Brooks also danced to the LCD Soundsystem song “Losing my Edge”, which differs strongly from the previous soundtracks. The fast pace and loud tune set a quite oppressing atmosphere. The latter was all the more emphasized by the repetitive and robot-style movements, which were stiff but smooth at the same time. As if he was in a trance, Brooks makes very tensed and alienated moves that he still seems to master thanks to an obvious technique.
Then in the piece “Division,” the dancers equipped themselves with small boards. Starting in line, they split up in groups and formed several patterns by sliding their boards on the floor.
“The music is actually made of the sound of the boards,” explains Brooks. “That’s what we wanted to have in the end. I worked with the composer Jerome Begin, and it was fascinating how he managed to auto-tune the sound of the board, and then amplify it.”
The music gave even more fluidity to the dancers’ moves. If sometimes the boards are like magnets that attract and guide the moves, it is often the dancer that sets the board in motion. It appeared as though the dancers were playing a sort of game in which they kept changing partners. There was an obvious connection, almost like cement that was bonding them, while they seem to be building something with their bodies.
Brooks’s duet with one of his dancers, Matthew Albert was next in the showcase. The title “Motor” takes on its full meaning after watching the two performers bouncing repeatedly for several minutes in different directions.
“I love bound movement, I feel I am pretty rigorist to that actually. To me, a comfortable movement is not interesting, and still I don’t think that kind of work is cruel. You must have thought we were going to get cramps doing that, but dance should not be comfortable anyway. I want to keep attention and to show urgency.”
The last piece, “Torrent,” was initially choreographed for the Julliard School and it featured 24 dancers. The Four Seasons echoed in the small black theatre, Brooks used music by Max Richter, which is a re-composition of a famous Vivaldi opera. The pace was quite fast, and so were the moves of the dancers. The audience was struck by their virtuosity and how they interpreted this restructured choreography.
When asked how it was to work with Brooks, the dancers were all very enthusiastic.
“He loves to let things happen,” said Jeff Sykes. “His work is very detailed too. It forces us to develop an ability to adapt to rapid change.”
Haylee Nicele, a Canadian native who graduated from Juilliard School in 2011, certainly agrees. “One morning you come and everything has changed, the music, the movements,” said Nicele. “This might be a little bit challenging at first, but overall it allows a lot of flexibility in the creation process.”
For Matthew Albert, who began dancing at the age of three, the main asset of Brooks’ company is the teamwork. “Every thing we are doing is group-based, we learn to listen to one another and trust the other,” said Albert. “This is something very important in dance.”
They all agree that it has been very inspiring to work together because they all come from different places.
“Brian is so kind hearted, you can never feel ashamed or scared with him,” said Nicele.