REVIEW: Kate Weare’s “Dark Lark” at BAM
Kate Weare is afraid of theatricality. She said it herself in a discussion following Friday evening’s performance of Dark Lark, her latest work for her eponymous company, which is currently in residence at the BAM Fisher (the first company to hold this place). Perhaps, then, Dark Lark enacts a fantasy of overcoming this fear; bold, evocative, strewn with narrative implications and visual references, the work unspools like cinema.
Dark Lark begins with sound, a score composed and played live by Christopher Lancaster. Brian Jones’ lighting casts Lancaster in a lavender glow while illuminating Kurt Perschke’s set, several large geometric forms reminiscent of crystals, origami, or Dorothea Rockburne’s current exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Lancaster is soon joined by Leslie Kraus and her companion, an artificial monarch butterfly—they emerge from between Perschke’s forms, a recurring image. Kraus passes the butterfly from one crook of her body to another, holding it in her elbow, between her toes, tucked in the crease of her hip. The sound accompanies and supports her, playing along with her phrasing. This might have grown predictable, but the richness of the vocabularies at work kept it wholly satisfying, a partnership that continued throughout the hour-long work.
Kraus is a veteran of the company, and while moments of her opening solo erred on the side of forced, before long her physicality opened up and she proved magnetic to watch. In an early trio, she is like an electrical current between two men of the company, testing the limits of connectivity as she’s thrown between them. All these dancers are ferocious, toeing the line between performance and exhibitionism. Thighs splay in brazen squats that are at once enticing and aggressive; more than once a hand presses the back of a partner’s neck, and this detail is understatedly shocking, a sign of complete physical dominance. It’s in these moments of interaction that the fantasy thread of Dark Lark’s makeup comes to the forefront.
Weare’s choreography utilizes extreme virtuosity to depict private impulses, no easy feat, and one rendered tender by generous performances from the cast. TJ Spaur’s final solo is sacrificial in intensity, primal in vulnerability. Fantasy, as Weare paints it, is performative. As makers of our own fantasy, we design it, shape it, accouter it, and, should bravery prevail, lay it out to be seen.