Joining forces to evolve, redefine and more: ‘Moving Through March’ from Développé Evolving and The Click Boston 

The Click Boston's 'Moving through March'. Photo by Baby Viking Photography.
The Click Boston's 'Moving through March'. Photo by Baby Viking Photography.

The Foundry, Cambridge, MA.
March 10, 2024.

One might wonder why a dance academy and a dance collaborative would team up to present a program. Kristin Wagner of The Click Boston and Meredith Wells of Développé Evolving let us know; it was a matter of mission alignment. The Click aims to “redefine rigor” in concert dance, and Développé Evolving to “evolve dance education.”

Intuitive enough, right? The question, from a critical lens, was if such mission alignment would bear the fruits of memorable, compelling dance art. Spoiler alert: it did. Together the program’s works created a tone of just enough abstraction to compel and still maintain access points for various kinds of audience members. 

The youth performers impressed me with their artistic sensitivity and perceptivity, that which felt seemingly beyond their young years. I wasn’t surprised to experience boldness, ingenuity and pure mastery of raw craft from members of The Click – that’s only their par for the course. 

The program cold-opened (before an introduction from Wagner and Wells) with this is what letting go feels like, from participants in The Click’s Repertory Experience Class and choreography by Angelina Benitez. Harmony and ease resonated throughout, from soft colors in the lighting (designed by Andrea Sofia Sala, board operated by Jon Wells) and keen receptiveness in the body of each ensemble member. Underscoring their sense of community, canon phrases felt like seamless baton-passing. The group kept formations and transitions remarkably clean and clear for such a large ensemble in a (relatively) modest-sized stage space. 

Olivia Coombs’ Gathering came next, an offering both bold and soothing. Just like the various instruments in the score, each dancer (from Développé Evolving) brought something unique to bear to the united collective. What struck me most was the intention and purpose in their movement. It felt only fitting, then, for them to end the work by running off together into a back wing – as if to a next adventure, a continuation of that purpose.

Alexandria Nunweiler‘s Reverence for a False History, a work in progress, came next. The work’s mysterious, almost ghostly inspiration instantly caught my full curiosity: a skeleton found, not too far away from where we sat, in a seated position and fully armored. 

Angelina Benitez and Katrina Conte danced the work, riding the swings of their own momentum and – when it arose – the layers of beats in the score (from Felix Laband). Repeated gestures connected and grounded them. Their speed and intensity gradually de-escalated, and the lights faded down. All things must come to a final rest. 

Tony Guglietti’s This piece brought to you by Starbucks. came right before intermission (not actually sponsored by Starbucks, they noted for legal purposes). Creating comedy through dance can be a true challenge, but these artists pulled it off. Développé Evolving students danced in devotion to favorite items: a teddy bear, a water bottle, a journal, a bag. From hugging to holding up a la Simba over Pride Rock, they did it all. 

Their solid dance chops were a foundation for their stellar characterization. Slightly cheesy 1980s ballads (from Journey and Air Supply) helped cement the bit at hand. Judging by the hearty laughter in the theater, one could say that the bit worked. Moreover, this reviewer’s favorite kind of comedy is the thought-provoking type: that which makes me laugh, but also reflect. People over things, absolutely – yet when things tie us to the people, places, and values that we hold dear, things can really mean something. 

A second piece from Alexandria Nunweiler, Into the Wind, was also on Développé Evolving students. With inspiration from “Pillars That Dance in the Wind” (an installation artwork in Osaka, Japan’s Nagai Botanical Garden), Nunweiler created the sense of objects moving through space – diverging, converging, dancing in myriad ways – from the force of wind. 

The ensemble began in a tight clump, but didn’t stay there. They gradually moved outward, thus finding their own stage real estate – and their own movement vocabulary. Shared gestures remained as connective tissue between them, however. They moved as if tuned into one central body, yet also acting with their own intelligence. Objects dance in the wind as separate objects, yet are moved by the same force. 

Next came a “recreation in process” of the (“significantly revised”) 2019 work Within/Without from Kristin Wagner and IJ Chan, this time by Wagner. As a “study on grief,” how the trio of dancers (Conte, Nunweiler and Rachel Linsky) engaged in space – and didn’t engage – felt poignant. Even when apart, and not making eye contact, shared movement vocabulary was again that connective tissue between them. In grief, physical proximity is impossible, yet intangible connections – photographs, places, people, memories – remain.

Moments of determination and tenacity spoke to the plain grit that can be what gets us through; we face the day because we have to. They ended by sitting and facing upstage, arms around each other’s backs and swaying softly side-to-side – serpentine through their spines. “Help is other people,” said Ted Danson’s character on The Good Place; social support can also go a long way towards helping us make it through. 

Meredith Wells’ Fraying Vessels, danced by Développé Evolving students, closed out the show. Evocative and touching, the work surfaced the question of how the world might shift and shape our most closely held thoughts and beliefs. That’s a vulnerable idea, and these young dancers brought that vulnerability across commendably. 

Accents, as stellar musicality (the score from Ezio Bosso), created a sense of tenacious resistance to such change imposed from outside oneself. Continuity, of momentum flowing and rolling like water through the body, brought a contrasting feeling of accordance and acceptance. Balance is the thing. With its varied and smoothly-integrated dynamics, this work had its own kind of balance. 

Partnership, such as that which brought forth Moving Through March, can work similarly. So can questioning the status-quo: redefining and evolving, reshaping and building up anew. These two entities might really be on to something. Short of all that, they brought us a lovely afternoon of memorable and satisfying concert dance – and that’s also more than enough. Thank you, The Click Boston and Développé Evolving! 

By Kathryn Boland of Dance Informa.

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