SonKiss’d Dance Theater’s Go

SonKiss’d Dance Theater billed its show Go as an “experience” because of the company’s commitment to sharing their Christian faith above their own performance.  SonKiss’d Dance Theater presented Go, a hybrid of contemporary and hip hop dance, spoken word poetry, live painting, and original music, on March 28-29 and April 4-5.  The message was empowering, and the best part was, they were practicing what they preached.

This young company is driven by fervor and teamwork, with charismatic powerhouse Christopher Thomas at the helm.  Throughout the night, the audience was encouraged to let go of fear and doubt and live our lives.  Through direct words, and abstract movement and sound we were told to just “go.”  Of course, I stayed.

After their very cool pre-show mixer complete with popcorn, drinks and a DJ, the audience filed, with great anticipation, into the back performance space at Houston ArtReach.  We found a pile of overlapping torsos, legs, and arms sprawling on the ground in dim light.  An elderly woman in a wheel chair instructing us to “get in the race,” stood up out of her chair and peeled off her grey wig to deliver a spunky and slightly terrifying poem about stripping away fear and experiencing her life.  Olga Hernandez returned throughout the night to ground the performance in warm and activating words.  She took no excuses.

The dance began as Hernandez finished her poetry.  Bright dresses and athletic women immediately brought up the energy of the space as they erected themselves from the pile to tackle the rest of the space.  Surprisingly, the movement was mostly contemporary, with pointed feet.  The richest moments of movement were sections of breakdancing.  SonKiss’d Dance Theater sits on the movement worlds of both contemporary dance and street dance and certain dancers would break, while others would leap.  But when Corey Greene manipulated his limbs and scrambled across the floor to then spiral from the earth to stand and walk backwards like a Martha Graham dancer, I saw the potential of this variegated composite of styles.  It was grounded and surprising, and the untapped secret weapon of this company.  The style shifting became problematic because the contemporary dancers existed in their performance world with a very secure fourth wall.  The street dancers, however, possessed an energy that didn’t stop at the edge of the stage: it was social, inviting.

Choreographically, the progression of this work was more seamless than I’ve seen the company in the past.  More time was spent on simpler actions, allowing the audience to sit with their ideas.  For example, one of the strongest moments of the night was a section where the dancers, spread across the stage, walked backwards in unison while one dancer at a time scurried through the ensemble to the front of the stage to rejoin them.  It became familiar, ritual and comforting.

The sound score was divided into two sections, broken up by the cast pulling audience members onto the stage to dance.  Always one for a dance party, I was actually hesitant. There was no transition into their world with new rules.

After the short dance party, the tone shifted entirely as Hannah Anderson (singer/songwriter) took the stage.  While I’m not sure why the tone shifted, it was pleasant and progressed into the most poignant moment of the night.  One dancer took a paintbrush and created two curves on the paper.  Mark Deleon took the paintbrush from the dancer and layered lines and curves on the canvas.  The dancers walked slowly to attach onto Deleon as he painted.  They began a simple head roll in a lunge as more performers entered the stage to attach into a long diagonal across the stage.  It was simple.  Peaceful anticipation of the final product on the canvas resulted in a curvilinear dancer with fire or water behind her.

Christopher Thomas spoke to close the evening.  An inspiring and uplifting man, he implored us to let go of our fear, our insecurities, and our excuses and live our life– because we only have one.  SonKiss’d Dance Theater is an example of that mantra; their charge was authentic. Although a bit scrappy, juggling so many ideas, they are fearless artists empowered by their faith and contagious with their fervor.

Lydia Hance is the Executive & Artistic Director of Frame Dance Productions.

About the Author

Lydia Hance is a choreographer, filmmaker, collaborator, and educator. Lydia Hance is the Founder and Artistic Director of Frame Dance Productions, a contemporary dance company making collaborative works for the screen and stage.

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