"Common Threads" | Dance review
Tapestry Dance Company
The Boss was in town Friday night, blasting tunes from Wrigley with his E Street Band. Up the street at Links Hall, where unexpected talent is often on display, a much smaller, lesser-known group of performers was forced to compete. But comparing a Springsteen set with a show like “Common Threads”—presented by Tapestry Dance Company (not to be confused with the Texas-based troupe), in collaboration with Esoteric Dance Project, Ballet 5:8, Robert Welcher and Tarpley Dance Ensemble—is like comparing an elephant to a mouse. Could a show like this ever contend with the Jersey Shore legend? Of course not. But I’ll bet Bruce himself would appreciate the creativity at the studio on Sheffield.
That said, “Common Threads” sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t, depending on who you’re watching. For a show made up of ten pieces, the choreography can feel repetitive. Tapestry Dance Company, helmed by Sarah Rabbers, performs in five of ten dances. Rabbers takes on too much task, based on the questions she poses in the program notes. She doesn't always answer. The movement conveys a a saccharine message, without much challenge to explore deeper. Rabbers, though, has a keen eye for space, maneuvering large groups in well-placed patterns. Geometrically, she’s gifted. Should she delve further, her next work should be interesting.
Pas De Trois from Esoteric Dance Project crosses traditional ballet technique with contemporary. Ballet 5:8's Life in Question is similar. The jumps and turns look nice, but neither feel like much of anything, aside from showcasing technical tricks.
There are notable works, like Christopher Montiel’s And They Took Their Hue From Circumstance. Five dancers, clad in black, take joy in their own demise, similar to the Willis characters in Giselle. The vibe conjures sinister imagery, much in the same vein as the ballet. Montiel pairs it with music from Arvo Part, boosting the eerie appeal. Robert Welcher choreographs and dances a solo work titled Awakening #5. A shirtless, tattooed Welcher opens by breathing heavily, extending one hand and impeding his reach with the other. Dance-wise, we’ve seen this type of individual struggle more than once, and the minimalist music of Philip Glass makes one think, “uh oh.” Instead, Welcher’s stroyline finds meaning in the progression of the piece. He starts slow, then picks up the pace as the inner struggle takes shape. The work isn’t perfect but has engaging moments of conflict.
Mary Tarpley presents her trio Thread Bare, using two female dancers and one male. The love triangle–dynamic begins in dark light, to soft music, as the male character distantly roams between the two females. What's his role? Is he real or is he an image? The ambiguity of the relationship is one of the more intriguing portions of the evening.