As the world appears to be picking up momentum following the pandemic, in her evening-length work INTERIM, choreographer Lara Wilson was asking her audience to pause and observe. The two adjectives at came to mind while thinking about Interim were meditative and contemplative. Another sense that I experienced was one of serenity. This was not a dance filled with fast moving and complex movement phrases that showcased the performers dance techniques. Curated by Barbara Mueller-Wittmann, Wilson’s piece was on the final weekend of the summer Dance at the Odyssey Festival that ran July 14 – 23, 2023 and it was good to see that the series has been well attended.
Wilson is a choreographer, dance filmmaker, designer, and gallerist based in Joshua Tree and Orange County, California. I first saw Wilson performing at a gallery in Santa Ana, CA. as part of a company called The Assembly Dance which she was a co-founder of in 2014. Interim included sections from Wilson’s films that she has kept stored in boxes for almost a decade. Indeed, the first we saw was filmed in New York in 2014 dancers Jillian Davis and Kenneth Neil Higginbotham in rehearsal of one of Wilson’s pieces. Another was a beautiful duet between Megumi Eda and Michael McBride.
The films projected on the back wall and a television set showing only static were incorporated into the dance as part of looking back, taking account of what happened and having it effect the present and the future in a positive manner. While Interim was serene, it was not low key in thought. That was what played a large part of why I enjoyed this work so much. Wilson allowed the viewer to internally ask questions, relax into the easy pace of the work and to truly see what she was showing them. At the end of the performance, a very large portion of the audience did not move to leave. I have only witnessed this following dance and theater that truly touches an audience emotionally.
Interim was basically a series of solos and duets, with an occasional trio or quartet. A short movement theme reappeared throughout the hour long work that looked back but inward and forward. At one point two dancers (Celine Kiner and Alyssa Forte) formed the infinity symbol by simply crossing arms and clasping hands conveying a sense of continuity. A dancer performed a solo while the others mulled about them before being gently led away by a colleague who replaced them in the solo. A loving duet between Wilson and Taylor Unwin that had the two quietly touching foreheads, intertwining arms, and simply standing together spoke to an unbreakable bond.
Often projections of dance films within a live dance performance will distract from what is taking place on stage. Here, the performers were often still watching with the audience. This displayed a sense of the past, or future, informing the present. Only at the end did the performers actually dance while the duets or solos performed by other dancers was being projected. Even here, the movement was designed for both filmed and live to be seen.
Interim was a quiet but powerful choreography and her choices of music required concentration on the audience’s part. On this night Wilson received that from the majority of those present. The wonderfully talented dancers who made this happen were Alyssa Forte, Celine Kiner, Taylor Unwin and Lara Wilson.
The dancers appearing in the original footage included: Ariel Asch, David Claps, Kailee Combs, Emily Craver, Jillian Davis, Megumi Eda, Samantha Fontneau, Alyssa Forte, Kenneth Neil Higginbotham, Kate Ladenheim, Marisa Martin, Michael McBride, and Annie Saeugling.
The subtle but very effective lighting for Interim was by Katelan Braymer. Many thanks to Barbara Mueller-Wittmann and everyone at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble for a successful festival and their continuing support for dance in Los Angeles.
To learn more about Lara Wilson, please visit her website.
For more information about the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, please visit their website.
Written by Jeff Slayton for LA Dance Chronicle.
Featured image: (L-R) Alyssa Forte, Taylor Unwin, Celine Kiner, Lara Wilson in Wilson’s Interim – Photo by LADC.