Right off the Newnan square sits a brick building with the words “Newnan Theater Company” on the front. Inside is a bright lobby with reclaimed wood floors and a blackbox-meets-proscenium theater. Here, Profectus Dance presented Affix. The show ran two days, a Saturday and Sunday, and presented both repertory and new works. In her curtain speech, the Artistic Director, Olivia May, mentioned that they are celebrating two years since the creation of the company. Since then, around 10 dancers have joined the ranks either as company or apprentices, an exciting checkpoint indeed!
The show opened with The Fine Line Between the End and the Beginning (Part 1), choreographed by Melinda Cassiday Jacques. The piece featured six dancers wearing work gear jumpsuits. It began with a bright stage wash and dancers rolling tape onto the floor downstage right to block off the front corner. Throughout the piece, this line was the focal point. The dancers came back again and again to look into the space that was blocked. Jordan Silas, one of the company dancers, gradually developed a special pull to this corner. The other dancers were in duets and trios, detering Silas from the corner, into which she eventually went. From the beginning, the work evoked curiosity, fear, youth, and death. The phrase “you wouldn’t dare,” and a feeling of loss, kept recurring in my mind. The structure explored individual relationships within a core set of movement which could be expanded upon for the final work to delineate clearer rolls. The end was resolved clearly, and the finished product of this work will be presented in the fall.
The second work was a short duet by Olivia May, entitled I.D.. The movement was full-bodied and included long lines and virtuosic vocabulary. The work evoked a mother and daughter as one dancer helped the other along and supported her in high jumps and lifts. The structure was full of action, keeping the audience engaged. Coming from the previous piece, however, the work missed some emotional delineation. The relationship felt undefined, which could be beautiful and enjoyable for future iterations of the piece.
Next on the program was an excerpt of Pensive: Scene 3: Psychological and Finale, choreographed by Olivia May. This part opened with one dancer moving in a red armchair, working with a movement phrase that accumulated and moved the chair. This solo was clearly created with the audience's perspective in mind, with the dancer creating shapes with their body and the chair as one. The other dancers entered and performed a long group movement phrase that employed strong modern dance technique which would be utilized throughout the rest of the piece. The chair was somewhat lost to this group section, but it regained the audience’s attention upon the piece’s conclusion. A consideration for this work would be the use of recognizable and culturally significant music such as “This Bitter Earth”, and the weight that bestows on a work of dance. The feelings and quality evoked from these cord structures can be attainable, perhaps using less historically vital works.
Following was the guest artist work by Britanie Leland, entitled Orbit. This new work opened with exciting textures and volatile focal points, capturing the audience’s attention immediately. Leland’s choreography showcased another strong ensemble work for Profectus, highlighting small groups as they shared weight and lifted each other. The title came through the movement as the work culminated in a large circle with dancers running in and out. Gritty and physical, this work was well placed in the lineup of works and successfully showed the dancers’ range.
The final two works were both premiers by Profectus company members. First, Joy Remains by Jaquelyn Sheppard, consisted of three distinct parts which were marked by three separate poems/proverbs being projected onto a screen upstage. Invoking a conversation of joy and light as well as sorrow, the dancers utilized a set of movement vocabulary through all three sections that consisted of clear weight shifts and efficient level changes. One highlight of the work was a solo danced by Leigh Ducas, with her honest and clear movement style. The second of the two final works, A Stream of Air, was choreographed by Ducas herself. The work progressed from a solo into a duet and, finally, a trio. I thought of hope throughout the work, symbolized by the dancers’ white costumes and their trust in gravity, or air. For Leigh’s first work on the company it was well constructed, and the length was not forced, but it felt to be a natural and strong end to the production.
On the whole, Profectus produced a full evening of work from a variety of choreographic voices in a largely untouched area of Atlanta by professional dance. As noted by Artistic Director Olivia May at the end of the production, there was a clear throughline of connection and relationship throughout the works, as well as an air of shared movement language overall. It is also a clear step forward to have a guest from outside of the fold of the company dancers, and Leland’s work diversified the aesthetic of works presented. It is exciting to see this ground-up organization finding their niche and rhythm among the arts community as they continue to offer performance, choreographic, and educational opportunities, all ideas clearly listed in the company’s vision. To learn more about Profectus Dance, visit profectusdance.org!