Located in east Los Angeles on Alhambra Avenue, Kate Hutter Mason has created an amazing space, Stomping Ground L.A., for dancers to train, rehearse and perform. It was in this wonderful venue on Friday, April 15, 2022 that Kevin Williamson + Company premiered two new works, From The Inside Out and All Over, that transported the audience to opposite ends of Williamson’s imagination. One was a tribute to his dance mentors and the other a clashing of physical speeds, energies, and emotions. One entertained and soothed while the other tested one’s senses.
Elegantly costumed in a gray and white striped dress shirt and gray slacks, Williamson began standing still for a few moments before his long limped body swept across the stage like liquid mercury with a movement vocabulary that spoke to modern dance with a dash of release technique. He somehow managed to descend into the floor and rebound like a flowing stream rather than a bouncing ball while making it look oh so easy.
From The Inside Out was a tribute to three choreographers who Williamson worked with the longest, Maria Gillespie (Oni Dance), Kate Hutter Mason (Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company) and David Roussève (REALITY). Sitting on a stool and speaking into a mic, Williamson related stories about each individual artist, how they influenced him personally and artistically before delighting the audience with movement sections reconstructed from works that he had performed with their companies.
Williamson’s surprise guest that was mentioned in his press release was revealed when he was joined by Los Angeles based choreographer, dance filmmaker, educator and wonderful dancer Nguyễn Nguyên for a gorgeously sensual duet, a verbal Gillespie-esque word game using the letter R, and Nguyên singing When I Fell In Love, lyrics by Edward Heyman as Williamson danced. The sections that the two performed were from Gillespie’s La Hora de Salir (2006) and The Splendor of Gretel (2007).
Roussève was the toughest on Williamson, but the two men were and are still close. Williamson performed excerpts from Roussève’s Stardust (2013) and Hallway to Dawn (2019) and as he finished the section said that Roussève saw him at his very worst but continued to love him.
Williamson has a very special relationship with Kate Hutter Mason and spoke very highly of her as a dance artist, someone who has built this incredible dance facility and as a friend. He performed excerpts from Mason’ Passion Plays (2005) and Value System (2008), one of which was originally a duet.
From The Inside Out was not only a peek into the different choreographic styles of three dance artists, but Williamson also lay bare a bit of his most vulnerabilities. He is a man, who in search of a long lasting relationship, has discovered that he has had long term relationships with dance artists with whom he has worked. The work was a beautiful walk down Williamson’s performance memory lane.
Following a brief intermission, Williamson’s All Over hit the audience with a sound and light opening that jarred one’s teeth and let us know that the tenderness was over. Performed impeccably by Kaia Makihara, Alexandra Rix, and Chelsea Roquero, All Over was a contrast of tempos, intensities, emotions, and darkness and light. Lighting Designer Alvaro M. Nunez Ramos tested our patience in a wonderfully artistic way with lights that were primarily white, but often barely bright enough to see the dancers. They were there but we had to search for them.
The dance went on longer than it wanted, but Williamson masterfully entangled and challenged his dancers physically and emotionally. They moved excruciatingly slow and then, as performed to perfection by Roquero, a lengthy solo built on harsh, fast and repeated exhales. During one section I noted that Williamson had managed to create a trio with the fluid like movement that he had performed earlier but performed by three dancers moved together as one. It was an amazing illusion.
For this reviewer, All Over needs serious editing, but the seeds of a powerful work have been sown.
The soundscore for All Over was mixture of music by several composers, each bringing their own unique edge to the work.
To learn more about Kevin Williamson, please visit his website.
To find out more about Stomping Ground L.A., please visit their website.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
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Featured image: Kevin Williamson + Company – From The Inside Out – Nguyễn Nguyên, Kevin Williamson – Photo Taso Papadakis