Thursday, October 01, 2020

"Crack the Dark"

Weston Krukow in Crack the Dark

Amy Seiwert’s Imagery
SKETCH Films: Red Thread
October 1st-December 31st 

One of my favorite parts of the San Francisco summer dance season is getting the chance to see what the artists of Amy Seiwert’s Imagery have been up to. For the past decade, they have brought their unique SKETCH series to the Bay Area each summer – a creative incubator that presents dancemakers with a set choreographic challenge, encouraging them to embrace risk and move out of their comfort zone. 

Summer 2020 is now a memory, and one that didn’t include a SKETCH event. But the series wasn’t gone; instead, like the entire performing arts community, it was regrouping. And as we ushered in the final three months of this unprecedented year, Imagery was ready to reveal to audiences what had been percolating. For this monumental tenth edition, Artistic Director Amy Seiwert has posited the following invitation to four creators: “to create a dance film following social distance protocols, inspired by those who have been impacted by the recent health, economic, and injustice crises.” Starting October 1st, one of the films premieres every two weeks, and they will be available to viewers until the end of 2020.

First up was the debut of John Haptas, Kristine Samuelson and Amy Seiwert’s Crack the Dark, a seven-minute documentary/dance film featuring choreography by Seiwert and solo performance by Weston Krukow. As the film opens, we are introduced to Patrick Mulvaney, chef and owner of Mulvaney’s Building and Loan restaurant in Sacramento, which was forced to temporarily close due to COVID. In these first few minutes, the viewer learns how Mulvaney looked beyond that loss and sought action. He harnessed both his culinary gifts and his commitment to mental health advocacy, sharing his passions and serving others. Resilience. Persistence. A desire to help. Crack the Dark is Seiwert’s response to that plucky spirit, a spirit that one can see mirrored in the performing arts. As the film concludes, Krukow poignantly performs Seiwert’s choreography for Mulvaney in an otherwise empty theater. 

Weston Krukow in Crack the Dark

Lit onstage by the theater ghost light, Krukow begins a varied physical journey. Tactile gestures combined throughout with the notion of expanse. Open palms run along the torso, down the forearms and gently brush the temple. Simultaneously, sinuous arabesque lines, long lunges and avant-garde balances carve out the space. And slides abound, inviting a tone of forward motion and the idea of falling into somewhere new. The presence of the ghost light (a single bulb in the center of the stage, lit when the theater is dark) felt particularly moving. Opinions vary greatly on the significance of the ghost light - from tradition to logistics to folklore. Here it felt equally layered. It was a beacon of safety. It was a guide back to an entity that has been largely uninhabited for most of this year. And it was recognizing all the souls that would have graced the space over the past six months and still won’t be able to over the next few. As intimated by the film’s title, when the darkness has finally been broken, a light has been left on, ready and waiting to welcome you back.

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