It’s 6 pm on Saturday evening, and the mood backstage at the Lobero is unmistakably somber.
Dancers shuffle quietly between dressing rooms, tugging self-consciously at shirt cuffs and pursing lipstick into place. Nayhara Zeugtrager slides a bobby pin into her hair and lets out an audible sigh, breaking the heavy silence as she sinks dramatically onto the floor. “Why don’t you play us something cheerful,” she calls out to Esteban Moreno, and without missing a beat, the introductory chords to Despacito come floating thru the hallway. Everybody starts swaying, moving wordlessly in unison towards the long goodbye.
If the 2017 DANCEworks residency could be summed up over a singular characteristic, the word “familial” easily comes to mind. With genuine conviction, these seven artists believed themselves capable of breaking open without falling apart, and with each passing week, the marks of transformation grew strikingly deeper; an electric co-mingling of ages and experiences all under the unifying auspices of dance.
Kate Weare once noted that her absolute confidence over deconstructing the language of tango stemmed from Moreno’s presence as a grounding force, a metaphorical spirit animal guiding her through unfamiliar territory. On that final evening, two dance companies with seemingly disparate qualities took to the stage to teach us a lesson or two about altruistic collaboration. The movement itself, a cohesive succession of expertly suspended limbs and unapologetic innuendo, the transfer of weight (note: power) shifting seamlessly from phrase to dancer, challenged our human inclination to point out the familiar (this is tango, that’s contemporary dance) focusing, instead, on the intricate subject of self-reflection. If the audience’s standing ovations were any indication, Weare’s desire to explore gender fluidity and the occasional ambiguity of relationships, played out to marvelous effect.
Over drinks and empanadas later that evening, Weare and Moreno shared their mounting plan to take Sin Salida across the pond, citing a second residency and tentative debut in France in early 2018. Daniel Escobar talked excitedly about continuing his training in contemporary dance, while Thryn Saxon marveled over her newfound passion for social dance. The transformation is now complete, and as Saxon puts it, “life as we know it will never be the same.”