Friday, October 16, 2020


James Gilmer in WeAIghT
Photo: Andrew Cashin

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

Friday, October 16th brought the debut of the second film in Amy Seiwert’s Imagery’s current SKETCH series, WeAIghT. For the 'tin' edition of this experimental platform, Artistic Director Amy Seiwert posed the following to four choreographic artists: “to create a dance film following social distance protocols, inspired by those who have been impacted by the recent health, economic, and injustice crises.” WeAIghT is Director/Choreographer Jennifer Archibald’s response. A five-minute world premiere collaboration with filmmaker Andrew Cashin set to “And I Ask You,” by Philip Hamilton, WeAIghT seeks to, “examine the emotional impact of the Black Lives Matter movement during the recent protests in New York City,” as noted in the press materials. And the emotional depth of the film is undeniable - such potent, raw and pure intensity commanding every single second. 

The solo, brilliantly danced and interpreted by James Gilmer, toggled between two frames – a seemingly empty apartment space and a sizeable chalkboard of powerful, often haunting, heartbreaking phrases. That sense of extremes, established early on, would continue to inform every aspect of the work. As Gilmer traversed the space, the juxtaposition between openness and constraint was palpable. Expansive spaces were met with equally expansive choreography: full splits; huge developp├ęs; stretchy extensions in all limbs. In those moments of vastness, the yearning and anguish read so clearly, yet a sense of possibility felt present too. In contrast, numerous scenes found Gilmer stuck against or within the constraints of the structure; his ability to reach the fullest expression of movement purposely obstructed by his environment. Whether in doorway jams, or in small corners of the room, Gilmer strikingly communicated frustration at being trapped.

Archibald’s choreography and Gilmer’s performance riveted at every turn. A palm splayed against the chalkboard in disbelief; then it gripped the face with urgency and despair. A crawling sequence was filled with deep struggle but at the same time, an incredible persistence and resistance. And then there were the instances of simplicity. Pedestrian walks, still glances, a fixed gaze out the window. But make no mistake, there was nothing simple about them, their presence spoke volumes. 

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