Photos by Alisa Little
The Atlanta-based collective Bluebird Uncaged presented an original work at City Church in Alpharetta on December 3rd, 4th and 5th. The empowering feministic spirit presented in the storyline was carried by the cast, plot, and movement throughout the show. Rather than a traditional audience setup, chairs were grouped around tables set with coloring pages and pencils for younger show-goers and table questions to fuel discussion before the show and during intermission. As the lights dimmed and the show began, a story-book graphic was projected onto the stage and a recorded narration of the story began. This multimedia approach may have been beneficial to new patrons of dance to guide the viewers through transitions and provided the often-sought-after contextual backing of a piece.
Shortly after narration of the introductory chapter concluded dancers entered the stage for their first piece, a lively and graceful balletic work reminiscent of a maypole celebration. Movement felt familiar yet fresh as the dancers wove in and out of formations with precision and clean technique. These qualities were also maintained through solo performances by Rebekah Diaddigo as Sterling and Hideko Karasawa as Nadia.
As the show progressed more contemporary movement was incorporated into the choreography, as was observed in the second group piece. While maintaining the technical caliber observed in the opening scene, dancers demonstrated a company-wide strength in synchronicity while during phrase work that struck a satisfying balance between quick, light footwork and suspended moments highlighting their extension. The piece grew stronger as the structure transitioned from group work to individuals traversing the space. However, moments in which the dancers came in and out of the floor almost felt as though they were incorporated to fulfill a typical characteristic of contemporary dance, rather than as a natural transition between movement levels. Yet the dancers executed all choreography asked of them fluidly. When embracing the technicality and vigor of ballet while exploring freedom and abstraction of contemporary the choreography appeared strongest. The dynamic and intricate feel of the choreography was particularly impressive given the smaller cast size.
Throughout the second half of the show Cara Celeste shone in the role of the dragon, as the dancer utilized serpentine qualities to evoke the image of a fantastic creature from another world. The dancer’s languid intonation throughout phrases and improvisation added a layer of depth to the choreography that was smartly showcased in solo moments. As Sterling wandered through the forest in the second half of the show, the company showcased their versatility and performed a jazz piece. While all performers attacked the movement with vigor and showed technical skill within the genre, the pop music used felt incongruous with the rest of the show. Towards the end of the performance Cara, Rebekah and Hideko performed a partnering section, expertly transitioning through a series of stylistically classic lifts revamped to suit the casting.
While there were many themes carried through the narrative, including the importance of hope and good triumphing over evil another theme that lived through the planning and organization of the evening was ease of access. The show was not only financially accessible, as the tickets were donation based, but also artistically and religiously accessible to a diverse audience. Although the story maintained many themes seen throughout religious text the message was one that could be clearly understood by all participants, and the use of multimedia felt inclusive towards a wider audience with varying degrees of knowledge about dance. Overall, Bluebird Uncaged successfully created a highly enjoyable family-friendly evening filled with exquisite expressions of joy.