The Radio Show: When words fall short
Kyle Abraham and his dance group Abraham.In.Motion brought their multidimensional performance to a packed audience this past friday.
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This past Friday, acclaimed performer Kyle Abraham and his team of talented artists known as Abraham.In.Motion came to Colby to present The Radio Showâ€”an interdisciplinary compilation of different sounds and dance styles. According to the program notes The Radio Show â€œis a multi-layered piece blending the story of an influential radio stationâ€™s abrupt discontinuation and the effects of Alzheimerâ€™s on a family.â€
The performance score was a seamless fusion of old soul, hip-hop, neo soul and new contemporary pieces by Ryoji Ikeda and Alva Noto, emblematic of the music played on WAMO 106.7FM and AM 860.
Abraham instantly captivated the audience in an unexpected way. At the beginning of the show, he walked on stage and stared into the audience as if he were looking for someone. He walked down the stairs and began talking to viewers in the aisle then casually retreated to the stage. This interaction set the tone for the performance. Abraham later clarified that â€œI donâ€™t like a wall between the performers and the audience; weâ€™re all in the same place.â€
Abraham.In.Motion sent the audience on an emotional rollercoaster as we witnessed a wide variety of phases, expressions and lighting changes. At one point, as the sound of static blared, Abraham exhibited a look of anguish and shook his arm occasionally. I was moved not only by the poignant expression on his face, but also by the unknown root of his agony. His momentary inability to communicate with us reflected, in a small moment, the theme of the entire show and was incredibly powerful.
The intricate phases (sequence of motion typically 10-12 seconds) and multi-faceted quality of the dances and music walked the line between seemingly improvisational choreography and precise, passionate actions.
The number set to Aretha Franklinâ€™s â€œOh Mary Donâ€™t You Weepâ€ exemplified this multi-dimensional aspect and gave me goosebumps. The lighting also added depth to the performance as the sidelights emphasized the dancersâ€™ every movement, rendering the numbers more intimate in contrast with the overheard lights, which made the numbers more dynamic.
After a brief intermission, the audience partook in an interactive segment called â€œMake It or Break Itâ€ set to audio interviews from the actual radio show and jumpstarted the second act. Some segments featured the artists standing tall and executing powerful arabesques, while others contained a single dancer moving delicately to no music.
After the performance, the audience was invited to stay for a question-and-answer session with the entire cast of Abraham.In.Motion that not only gave us greater insight into the inspiration behind the show, but also showed how unpretentious and affable the entire company is.
Abraham explained the effects of both Alzheimerâ€™s and a lost radio station, each representing a loss of voice for an individual and a community, respectively. When discussing the power of movement, Abraham noted the importance of how different shapes and timing have a huge effect in determining the emotion of a piece (someone bending with a flat back perpendicular to the floor conveys such a different mood than someone standing with a hunched back).
â€œMovement is communicationâ€ Abraham explained, â€œItâ€™s the job of the dancer to re-invent the theme with his or her own interpretation and personal experience; everyone has their own idea of who the characters are and thatâ€™s really cool.â€
Even the audience brings part of themselves into the performance and subconsciously sees the characters in ways that we understand.
A part of the discussion that really resonated with me was the fact that Kyle Abraham does not hold auditions.
He explained, â€œItâ€™s all about relationship building, when you have a good relationship with someone you want to keep it.â€ This was so refreshing to hear and added to my already high level of respect for Kyle as a performer and as a person.
Abraham.In.Motion changed my perception of dance. Each dancer brought something highly personal and unique to the performance, contributing to the exploration of movement and sound in storytelling.