Over the weekend I had the treat of attending a dual MFA thesis production. “Where Pathways Meet” and “A Place Called Me” were very different and compelling performances choreographed by Pengying “Sophie” Sui and Taylor King respectively. Each piece sought to make the audience ponder each of our existences, our tangential roles in the lives of others, and how we contain ourselves within our own lives and experiences.
Both works made fantastic use of the mirrors and lighting and had the intention of making the viewers think reflectively and, in some ways, nihilistically. It questions how we use autonomy within our lives and the impact it may or may not have.
“Where Pathways Meet” examines the responsibility found within each of has and our personalities, magnetism and simple timing. The performance featured dancers moving in very close quarters with one another, with some interacting and others not. There were also images behind the dancers that went from featuring a house that looked to be drawn by a child, to a similarly drawn town landscape, to eventually just a view of the earth from space.
The dancers represented the idea that timing and space are the two properties that are always necessary to trigger intersection. Think of anyone that you’ve met that you just didn’t get along with for whatever reason. Poor timing and spacing was more than likely the root cause. It is entirely possible to meet someone too early in your and their development and it is just as possible to meet someone too late. You could meet someone that will have a lot in common with you and a great personality, let’s say four years from now, but you’re currently meeting the wrong version of that person.
The production also emphasizes how important spacing is in interpersonal relationships, because a lack of space can either choke off a potential relationship, while too much space could let a relationship fall to pieces.
Taylor King’s “A Place Called Me” operated within a more spiritual context than Sui’s “Pathways.” “A Place Called Me” composed of seven sections, each named after one of the seven primary chakras, in accordance with Hindu tantrism. The acts were named Muladhara, Svadhishthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha, Ajña and Sahasrara. Chakras are thought not to physical parts of the body, but parts of the subtle body that allow energy to flow throughout the body’s channels.
“Muladhara” was the opening of the performance, which featured all the production’s dancers performing to Tibetan and Native American spiritual music. The musical choices made by King and her crew really helped each section of the production stand out in its own way from a style standpoint. The next act, Svadhishthana, was set to “Nightly,” and instrumental by DVN. This chakra is very closely linked to the sense of taste and the reproductive process, so the title along with the sensual tones of the track are very fitting.
My favorite chakra that the dancers were represented was Ajña, the chakra most closely linked to the third-eye concept. In Hinduism, the third-eye is treated akin to how we would treat our physical muscles. It gains more power when we use it more often, and it signifies the subconscious mind, our direct link to a higher power. While your two tangible eyes enable you to perceive the physical world, the third eye is believed to rely on intuition to reveal insights about the past and future. The performance was paired with Shlohmo’s track, “Remains.” The beat is abstract enough to really help the dancers represent the idea of third-eye and the power of intuition through their performance.
Each production truly showed the skill that these MFA candidates have worked to attain of their respective times at UNCG. Sui and King were able to show their choreographic prowess in full effect on Friday night. The dancers did a fantastic job, especially the soloists. Performing solo in any performing has its share of pros and cons, and each dancer pulled off their roles with aplomb. After some difficulty getting my ticket, I’m fully aware of why MFA dance thesis sell out so quickly.