(This review is written by American-Statesman freelance arts critic Claire Christine Spera.)
The show hasn’t started yet, but the stage of the AustinVentures Studio Theater is already full — of drums, xylophones, marimbas and sixxens, a 19-keyed metallophone designed by Iannis Xenakis for his four-movement “Pléïades.” There are six of each instrument, and they take up so much space they spill into the wings on either end of the stage.
But the instruments, played by line upon line percussion and guest percussionists, comprise only half the show. The other half is Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company’s performance of “More Than One Complication,” set to the chiming, rumbling “Pléïades.”
And how delightfully complicated it is.
Artistic Director Kathy Dunn Hamrick invited three guest artists to interrupt her choreographic process by working with her eight dancers. The result was not separate pieces, but rather a single cohesive work comprising four choreographic sensibilities. Charles O. Anderson, Lisa Nicks and Kate Warren, along with Hamrick, are the co-creators of “More Than One Complication.”
The dancing itself went up, down and all around; the only constant was its fabulous inconsistency. You didn’t know where it was going next. You were there to live in the moment, along with the dancers, and they were clearly relishing the opportunity.
There was a striking section danced to the pinging sounds of the xylophones. The dancers lined up across the stage, their backs to the audience, and made a sneezing sound before launching towards the audience in a frenetic, funny fashion, breaking out of their horizontal line. As they tossed their limbs, it was almost as though you could see their energy being released into the ether. A smattering of notes rippled through the dancers, causing them to scatter across the stage with twitching shoulders and skittish lunges.
In a section set to the thrumming of drums, the dancers formed a circle that they collapsed and expanded in turn. Slower moments of unfurling their limbs gave way to falling motions. As their feet hit the floor, they made their own rhythmic music.
Towards the middle of the 45-minute piece, Mariclaire Gamble stoically handed a water bottle and towel to a fellow dancer. While she drank and toweled off, the drumming reached a crescendo. Yes, sometimes it’s best to take a moment to yourself in the midst of hysteria.
In the final moments, the dancers joined hands and walked off stage together. Life is complicated, they seemed to be saying, but it’s better together.