Ailey Citigroup Theater, New York, NY.
August 9, 2022.
Wo.man in Motion, NYC’s newest project-based dance company, premiered its one-night-only show this summer at the Alvin Ailey Theater to a nearly sold-out house. Founded by Laura Kaufman and Rachel Thalman, the company was born of the idea to provide more performance opportunities to dancers, and meld the worlds of musical theater and ballet.
The inaugural company of 12 dancers presented works from both styles of dance, as well as contemporary, in a program of 8 works, all premiers. In doing so, the company achieved its goal of producing performance opportunities for freelance dancers. Wo.man in Motion seeks to showcase each dancer’s individuality and diversity, and nurture the idea that unique characteristics will add to the overall richness of performance.
The program reflected that desire and offered ballet, musical theater, and contemporary in the form of group pieces, duets, and solos. Kaufman and Thalman had their first meeting just 3 months before the performance. For a company to move from conception to performance in such a short time is a big goal, especially given the challenges of working with all freelance artists needed to create the varied program. Wo.man in Motion uses 12 dancers and had 7 different choreographers for this first show. According to Kaufman and Thalman, making all the various schedules work together was the biggest challenge.
The sold-out house enthusiastically welcomed the variety, and the dancers seemed delighted to be performing; many had not been on a proper (read: not outside in a park or on a street) in almost 3 years due to the pandemic. While most large companies were able to produce seasons as soon as it was safe to do so, smaller companies in NYC had a much harder return to performance for a variety of reasons – chief among them being how long public studios were shuttered due to city and state mandates, and the challenge of finding available theater space to rent.
Getting the show to the stage was one goal of the co-directors. The other goal was to specifically cater to the strengths of the dancers – not requiring them to fit into a mold. While many companies have a style that dancers have to learn, Wo.man in Motion works the other way around. This allows each dancer to feel their most confident onstage, and it was apparent in the performance. On the day of the show, the theater buzzed with energy from both the audience and the performers as each welcomed back the joy of dance.
Follow Wo.man in Motion on Instagram: @wo.maninmotion.
By Emily Sarkissian of Dance Informa.