‘Horizon’ Review

Following last year’s performance, The Liz Gerring Dance Company had very high expectations to live up to, and they certainly succeeded with ‘Horizon.’

Horizon brought to the Alexander Kasser Theater this past weekend by The Liz Gerring Dance Company, was breathtaking.

The Liz Gerring Dance Company has brought countless works to the stage since it began in 1998. Choreographer, Liz Gerring focuses mainly on abstract movements of the body and modern style dance. Horizon was centered on density as Gerring packed the stage with extremely intricate movements, often having each dancer perform different choreography simultaneously with one another. The overall work was very complex and impressive.

Photo courtesy of Executive Director Eric Rosenzveig.

Usually when I began a new piece, I give myself a directive that comes from a reaction to [a] previous work I made,” said Gerring. “For example, in Glacier, I was primarily focused on this idea of minimalism: restricting myself to limited movement and smaller groupings of people in order to achieve a clarity I thought I could not achieve otherwise. When I began work on Horizon I wanted to experiment with the idea of complexity.”

Aside from the choreography itself, the dancers’ levels stamina were extraordinary. This was an hour long work with no intermission, meaning no break for the performers.  Many of Gerring’s works are centered around small groups of dancers. Horizon, in particular had seven very talented men and women utilizing the stage. At most points, the stage was full, encompassing the talents of the entire company. The only down time they had was when specific dancers were featured in solos or duets. Horizon was physically demanding, however the dancers never showed signs of exhaustion.

Another key aspect to Horizon was its score. Both the dancers and the music were heavily influenced by each other. Musical Director and Composer, Michael J. Schumacher accomplished the complicated task of reflecting Gerring’s abstract choreography with sound. Even after 20 years of collaboration with The Liz Gerring Dance Company, something new and exciting is always brought to the stage. Horizon opened with very industrial sounding accompaniment created both electronically and with live percussion. Individual movements were often highlighted by abrupt changes in sound, an idea that added uniqueness to the overall work.

The lighting added a new dimension to the work. Designer, Robert Wierzel was able to make the dancers appear to be in their own world with his expertise. Depending on the choreography, the color of the lighting was changed. This reflected the various moods portrayed by the dancers. The set itself was simple: a white “box” encompassing the entire stage. The white allowed the color lighting to reflect easily, making it look like the dancers were enclosed in red, then yellow, then pink at contrasting moments of the performance.

“An hour-long piece like Horizon usually takes between a year and a half to two years [to complete]. It’s quite a long process from improvising steps in the studio to the finished product on stage. I like to give myself time to allow the work to develop on its own, that is, I don’t have a set plan for the entire piece when I begin,” said Gerring.

Horizon was a beautiful work with so much talent packed into one hour. The time seemed to escape the audience as they became more and more hypnotized by what was happening on stage. The abstract movements were complemented by the changing lights and the distinct sounds.

“Montclair is such a beautiful theater to present work in – it’s really a pleasure to see my work on that stage,” said Gerring.

Peak Performance brings professional quality shows to the Alexander Kasser Theater each week. Please visit peakperfs.org for more information on upcoming events and to purchase tickets. MSU students receive one free ticket with their student ID. Visit lizgerringdance.org/works for more information on The Liz Gerring Dance Company.

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