Ishida Dance keepsake Review

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Ishida Dance keepsake was a powerful performance full of raw emotion and stunning choreography.

Curated by artistic director Brett Ishida, the program featured world premieres from Ishida Dance alongside guest choreographers John Wannehag and Jérémy Galdeano.

The choreography had a distinct cinematic quality which was both visually striking and psychologically saturated. 

“I want people to experience my work on an emotional, visceral level,” said Ishida.

warm my bones

The evening opened with Ishida’s warm my bones, a modern take on the Greek tragedy of Polynices and Eteocles from the story Seven Against Thebes.

The piece was tense and somber as the two dancers (Amando Brydson and Lorrin Brubaker) embodied the cursed brothers, moving with sharp gestures to a haunting soundtrack.

Ishida’s masterful blend of music, movement, and mood transported the audience into a transcendental realm.

Much of Ishida’s work revolves around family and this piece is a strong commentary on the dangers of sibling rivalry and how comparing yourself to others leads to harm.

But the piece also had an element of redemption and rebirth that comes with healing from trauma.

If the world was ending would you hold me tight?

The dark intensity continued with Wannehag’s If the world was ending would you hold me tight?, which was set to an ominous techno score.

“The piece explores the longing for physical and emotional connection,” said Wannehag. “To truly feel and be seen by someone for you are.”

The dancers conveyed this yearning through their intense, athletic choreography. Even during the quieter moments in the piece, I still felt a palpable sense of desire.

You look strange – you look happy

Galdeano’s world premiere You look strange – you look happy shifted the tone of the evening with its quirky language, subtle gestures, and other idiosyncrasies. 

“This piece is based on one of my relationships,” Galdeano said. “It’s about what happens when you’re in a relationship with someone and it ends, but you cannot let go of that person.”

While cryptic at times, the piece brought a bit of lightness that enabled the audience to reset before the powerful finale.

keepsake

Ishida’s keepsake anchored the evening expired trauma through the fugue state of its central character.

Haunting portrayed by lead dancer Renee Kester, the protagonist re-lived fragments of memory through a series of tortured yet tender vignettes. 

Two male dancers (John Wannehag and Fernando Martin-Gullans) play different versions of a man in her life who is central to the main character’s traumatic memories.

Based on Rodin’s sculptures, the piece conveyed astonishing emotion purely through movement and negative space.

As the lights dimmed on the trio still suspended in dissociative echoes, the audience was left raw from the psychological intensity of Ishida’s vision. 

True to its name, keepsake was an evening etched into memory, full of exquisite beauty and human truth distilled into movement. 

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