“Shut your eyes….”, played repeatedly and the beep, beep, beep, of the sound effects rippled through the theater as the audience watched the fluid dancers take up the stage. Kyle Abraham and his company Abraham In Motion (A.I.M.) presented four pieces on stage at the Moore Theatre this March. They were all beautiful pieces, but there was one piece in particular that stood out along with a specific part of another.
In Abraham’s fourth piece, “Drive”, the music seemed to get louder and louder as fog filtered onto the stage. The dimmed lights were on the dancers as they pulsated in synch, the rhythm of the music pounding along. The feeling of desperation, and the intense need to convey something filled the air as the dynamic dancers unhesitatingly continued to flow and sway. They were swift and unstoppable in their need to get the audience to understand. An ominous feeling filled the theater, yet eyes remain locked on stage. This feeling was amplified after the previous message commemorating any black man who reached age twenty-one from the piece “Meditation: A Silent Prayer.” As the lights dimmed further and the curtains went down, the audience stood for an ovation.
Karen Young (Costume Design), Dan Scully (Lighting Design), and Theo Parrish, Mobb Deep, and Sam Crawford (Music), expertly chose their designs to add to the theme on stage in this powerful piece. The musicality was amazing. Since the choreography was by both the A.I.M. company and Kyle Abraham, the emotions felt more real.
The last two pieces, especially, seemed to impart a message about atrocities against black people added to because all the dancers seemed to be black. The very first piece, “INDY”, seemed to relate to this because it felt like a message about being comfortable in your own skin (body) and holding your head high as you do it.
The first piece, “INDY,” was by Kyle Abraham himself and it presented him wearing a black costume with fur on the back, showing each of the tiny, controlled movements he made. He walked across the stage in different directions with a swagger and hand on his hip emitting confidence as he did so. He seemed to be almost otherworldly in this piece, but all the dancers seemed more human as the show went on.
There was a build-up that occurred in this show, however subtly. The first piece, “INDY,” was a captivating introduction with the message about being comfortable in your own skin. The second one, “Dearest Home” seemed to be about a couple (dancers Tamisha Guy and Jeremy Neal) and the toughness they needed to survive, while the third, “Meditation: A Silent Prayer” was about what the couple and others (Guy, Neal, Keerati Jinakunwiphat, Catherine Ellis Kirk, Marcella Lewis, and Jada Jenai Williams) might face or have faced every day. Finally, the fourth piece, “Drive” performed by Guy, Jinakunwiphat, Kirk, Williams, Claude Johnson, and Matthew Baker, left a lasting image of urgency to understand and act on these problems.
Combined, I think these pieces relay an important message about black people and what they face every day. The fact that this is still necessary to relay to the audience shows that the problem is not yet solved. This strikes a chord with me because I often wonder what would have happened to me and my family if we were alive back then because we are brown-skinned. I wonder about slavery, discrimination by race and skin color, and all the other things black people have to face and wonder if my family and I would have faced these things too. Someone could be forced into slavery, or hurt and abused. Maybe someone would have died. I have a feeling that whatever happened, it wouldn’t be good. These problems have been going on for years and it’s time we put an end to them. No human deserves to be judged by skin color, race, culture, etc. when they are the same as all of us in at least one regard, we are all human. This was a beautiful and powerful show and I encourage everyone to watch it if they haven’t yet. There may yet be more hidden messages to be revealed.
Lead photo credit: A.I.M. dancers performing “Drive." Photo by Ian Douglas.
Prama Singh is a 7th grader at the International Community School
This review was written as part of the Theater & Dance Press Corps Intensive.
The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about other Press Corps programs including the Teen Editorial Staff or the TeenTix Newsroom, see HERE.