In the world of modern dance, experience is everything. Bronwen MacArthur has no problem with this aspect of her work. The top-billed guest artist for this year’s recent Fall Dance, MacArthur brought decades of experience and development to the Goodwin theater stage at Austin Arts Center Friday Oct. 21 and Saturday Oct. 22.
MacArthur has taught and performed dance throughout the world, from New York to Copenhagen, to South America. Like her fellow visiting artists, Rachel Bernsen and Pamela Newell, she is a scholar of dance and an acclaimed choreographer. Bernsen and Newell are visiting faculty at Trinity. These three noted dancer/choreographers worked with five of Trinity’s student dancers to complete the three acts of the Fall Dance
MacArthur herself was the sole dancer of the first piece. Titled “Re-Go,” MacArthur’s dance used a cycle of repetitive motions to tell a story. MacArthur conveyed great emotional depth through her raw physicality, moving with great tension through her space. Minimal set design and generous use of darkness brought the focus entirely to the visiting artist. The pensive style of the first dance also seemed to imply a very specific deeper meaning. MacArthur unraveled a long scroll of penciled words at the start of the dance, and murmured the scrawled words under her breath at later points, throughout the piece. The effect was deeply mysterious, but these touches did not distract. Instead, they bring even more weight to MacArthur’s own great skill.
The second dance was titled “Contour,” and featured the five student artists. The artists, who wore flowing silver, were as follows: Jami Cogswell ’16, Kristina Kurker ’20, Maggie Mori ’20, Christina Prophete ’17, and Colby White ’17. The dance, choreographed by MacArthur, was a highly ambitious choice for all involved, but the payoff was a marvel. Connecting and disconnecting with each other, remaining in an impressive balance with one another, and at one point navigating a complex human knot, the five dancers made an intensely complicated performance seem easy.
The third dance of the evening was choreographed not only by MacArthur, but also by the two additional faculty artists, Newell and Bernsen. It was clear that the three professional dancers each had an insightful understanding of the emotional undercurrents of their dance. Excelling both individually and together, “Corner” presented the audience with a very intimate dance that shifted and changed the dynamic of the three women in their space. The three dancers brought such life to their performance that while the third dance was the longest, it felt as though it was passing very quickly.
While the three visiting dancers were the most technically perfect in their performances, it was the compatibility of Trinity’s own student dancers with MacArthur’s high-pressure choreography that most impressed. The five dancers more than met the challenge of the Fall Dance, and gained the invaluable opportunity to work with such gifted and accomplished professionals.