five traditional dances
at the Earle Ernst Lab Theatre
performed jointly with Art by Jason Ellinwood
this piece also toured to Tasmania as part of the Ten Days on the Island Festival
April 2008 / April 2009 (Tasmania)
solo dance performance
alternating nightly between
choreographed and designed by Abel Coelho
sound board op by James Schirmer / Matt Peavey (Tasmania)
technical director Alyd Taylor (Tasmania)
review in the Honolulu Advertiser by Joseph T. Rozmiarek
kitten face -- the kitten face dance is the first in series of traditional dances displaying the intellectual activity of animals.
reaching -- reaching is a seasonal celebration dance usually performed every four years in April.
It is performed on the occasion of a young person completing their education.
my new dress -- performed on the occasion a young girl is first allowed to wear a dress.
This occasion marked not only the privilege to wear a dress, but to flirt as well.
cicada dance -- performed every eight years, this dance should really be performed in 2012.
Also, it is usually presented at village squares, with audience on all sides. It has been loosely adapted for the stage.
overcome -- red darkly glint come become was is when, this was for we before became would be overcome.
excerpt from review
The second half of the performance is "overcome," a sequence of five dances choreographed by
Abel Coelho, Gwen Arbaugh and Junko Mizumochi, directed by Coelho and performed by Arbaugh
and Mizumochi on alternate nights.
The dances are a study in dark and light and go counter to the expectation that a dancer shapes the
space in which she or he moves. In "overcome," space closes in on the dancer, compressing and
restricting the individual to physical spasms that react or fight back.
Arbaugh performed on opening night and gave arresting emotion to even the more traditional dance pieces.
"Kitten Face" is a somewhat literal interpretation of what the animal may be internalizing. In it,
Arbaugh, never rising above her knees, licks paws and pounces on prey, but without cuteness or
sentimentality. There is no fuzzy calendar charm in her kitten, which presents itself as an absorbed
and dedicated predator.
But the most compelling sequences leave traditional dance far behind.
In one, a flashlight inside a red paper parasol provides the only illumination, with brief glimpses of the
dancer's face and body to remind us that a person animates the images. In the final sequence, a
mentor or emotional coach murmurs instructions as the dancer engages a bucket of water — first by
inserting her toes and ultimately plunging in her entire head.