Review: Common Thread Contemporary Dance

Here is a link to my interview with the AMAZING Victoria Jaiani.

'After the Rain'-Victoria Jaiani and Fabrice Calmels

Also, I was recently sent to review a newer company in town. Oh wait, when I say recently, I mean at the end of February. It was amazing. The stuff happening with this company is very exciting, the dancers are fabulous, the choreography is wonderful, I couldn’t have asked for a better show.

 My biggest critique is usually that I am too wordy, so trying to chop it down, to say something meaningful about the company and give an honest opinion weighed pretty heavily on my hunched-over-my-computer shoulders. But I think I managed it. This is my review of the Common Thread Contemporary Dance showcase. Please enjoy!

Meditations on broken world- dances of reflection and hope

Common Thread Contemporary Dance -Dancers

Driving to the Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company performance on February 26th, I experienced an embarrassing moment when someone a lane over spotted me enthusiastically ‘car-dancing’ along with my iPod. I can only imagine what a show I was putting on, but I didn’t think anyone was looking.

This past weekend, the young company led by Artistic Director Jennifer Medina presented ‘Meditations on a Broken World..Dances of Reflection and Hope’.  Medina described the mission of the show was to create an educational and artistic experience within the community as well as to offer opportunities to young choreographers and dancers in a collaborative, creative spirit. The show provided an opportunity of discovery and emotion generated by dance for the creators, performers, and audience.

The name ‘Common Thread’ is not a typical dance company moniker. Most call themselves something related to their hometown, the person in charge, or their style of dance. So what is this ‘common thread’? It could be the aesthetic of the seven company members who managed to never lose individuality within the work but to showcase a strong understanding of the subtleties of movement when done in unison. More likely, the name is in keeping with the goal of this particular performance, and is a nod towards the collective human experience.

The dance vocabulary in each piece blended technical precision in ballet and modern styles with creative expansion of what counts as dance, including gesture, pedestrian moments, and things I’ve never seen done before. The choreography and execution were strong across the board. The differences in each piece were the gamut of emotions I felt while watching. Just as individuals deal with the ups and downs of life with varying degrees of optimism, aggression, or sadness, each piece seemed to show a variety of the human experience in an artistic sense.

The most resonating and successful pieces masterfully combined elements of choreography, execution, music, and costume. Costume pieces and secular music can sometimes distract from the art of dance. Medina’s ‘Poetry’ perfectly combined a simple costume with unrelenting choreography set to music by Saul Williams where the dancers brought the spirit of the song, rather than individual lyrics, to life. This kind of dancing is also incredibly hard to do as a group, where it is so fast and furious that no room is left for physical interpretation between the separate bodies, making it all the more powerful when done well. Another standout was Tara W.F. Cacciatore-Lopez’s, ‘Positus’. The white jacket used for costumes with the atonal pulsating music by Aphex Twin and Bjork added a starkness and numbness that felt relatable, haunting, and almost cautionary. ‘Delivered’ choreographed by Mariko Kumanomido and set to music by Cat Power was perhaps the most ‘naked’ performance, which is odd because the solo dancer was in the most elaborate costume of an evening dress and gloves. However, these smart choices only further illuminated the exquisite choreography and made the dancer seem more human. This piece felt intimate and private, like peeking at someone when they think they’re alone, vulnerable, fragile, and beautiful. I suppose it’s kind of like my ‘car-dancing’ except a lot higher on the artistic scale.

Here’s a common phrase: all of the world is a stage. It can be true if anyone cares what the people around us are thinking, feeling, experiencing, and how they deal with it. Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company proves that all of the world can be fuel for intimate, artistic representations of the collective human experience done onstage.  

Stay in the loop with Common Thread at or see them for yourself on April 28th at Union Station for National Dance Week.

3 thoughts on “Review: Common Thread Contemporary Dance

  1. Good work, Jess. I’d like to see them perform! I know how frustrating it is to submit work that never sees the light of day. Some of my most technical, difficult-to-write pieces on personal budgeting were never published and seem to have simply disappeared. I’m glad you have an outlet like this to post a well-deserved review, especially for a small company.

    • Thanks Sabrina! I have the feeling they will be making their way into bigger and better publications like Dance mag rather than my little blog in the future. i don’t know what is more frustrating, when pieces simply disappear or when they become so altered that I would rather not lay claim to them.

  2. Pingback: Tour de Force- Iowa | BODIES NEVER LIE

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