Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 4, 2019

REVIEW: Jacob’s Pillow, A.I.M. By Kyle Abraham

Jacob’s Pillow, Becket, MA
through August 4, 2019
by Josephine Sarnelli

Formerly known as Abraham In Motion, A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham offers a unique blend of attributes from contemporary, classical, hip-hop and club dancing. Abraham’s choreography seems very personal as it explores themes of gender differences, sensuality and isolation. His troupe of five female and three male dancers is technically proficient and incredibly athletic.

Photo by Hayim Heron
The first piece, entitled “state,” was choreographed by Andrea Miller in conjunction with the A.I.M. dancers. It is the only dance of the program not choreographed by Abraham. Three female dancers appear to be on a journey, entering and exiting with the same movements. The lighting and shadow projections sometimes give the illusion of more performers on stage and is very effective in accentuating the lines of the dancers.

Abraham choreographed his solo, "INDY," to clearly have a conversation with the audience. He reveals so much of himself through his personal history that at one point he removes his dance costume. As he stands in only his dance trunks, he acknowledges his vulnerability to the audience. It is then that the soundtrack announces his name at his college graduation. He responds by periodically moving when there is sound and then seizing up as if the past is bottled up within him.

The most poignant piece was “The Quiet Dance” choreographed to Leonard Bernstein’s “Some Other Time.” Four dancers group together, but never interact with the soloist; the isolation is palpable, although she is going through the same motions as the others. During the Pre-Talk with Brian Schaeffer, a scholar in residence, it was explained that this work was Abraham’s interpretation of a medical condition that isolated his father from effectively communicating with the outside world.

“Show Pony,” danced by Tamisha Guy, is a stimulating convergence of hip-hop and lyrical. It highlights what Abraham does best: he creates movement for a dancer. Conversely, in none of his choreographies do his dancers interact or react to one another.
Unfortunately, it becomes apparent from the very start of the program that one of the influences that social club dancing has had on Abraham is a taste for very loud music. Hence, the soundtrack for the entire program was painful to audience members, including this reviewer, who returned after intermission wearing earplugs, as did many others. The deafening score for this two-hour performance was a serious distraction.