Gallim in "Boat" at Jacob's Pillow.
This week was not Gallim’s first showing at Jacob’s Pillow, nor was it it’s best.
The high-octane company, led by choreographer Andrea Miller, danced in the august Ted Shawn Theatre for the first time. For the occasion, the Pillow commissioned Miller to create a new work.
That piece was “True, very,” to music by various composers. It incorporated older pieces into the new, longer creation that appeared like a mash-up of random works. Unfortunately, as a whole, it added up to nothing.
It appeared that Miller, perhaps, was taking the viewer through a time – from the Earth’s beginning to its current demise. But after “Pupil Trio and Duet,” which is actually a piece from 2008, the work took a dive. I struggled to stay engaged.
Gallim’s amazing dancers were contorting themselves in ways that were uncomfortable to watch. Aside from showing how we are twisted into an untenable position, these passages were too long. Interestingly, the section entitled “Bruce,” another older work, had the dancers watching this body warp, but don’t act. It’s a stinging metaphor for understanding our lost world, but not changing our behavior.
When The Doors’ song “The End” came on, I was relieved it was so.
The program started off well, however, with “Boat” from 2016. Inspired by the plight of Syrians who fled war, the piece was dark portrait of military conflict and the pain it inflicts on those who endure it.
The curtain opens to a dimly lit, smoky stage with a backdrop that rippled, alluding to wave of a flag or the sea. To music by Avro Part, the dance took the audience through the agonies of war and the flight it provokes.
Most moving was the central duet – two men stumbling through their toxic world, carrying and protecting each other the best they can.
The image of a dancer face down on the floor referencing the image of a refugee child washed ashore was also chilling. So too was the dangerous journey that ensemble of nine took – holding and clinging to each other as some appear to slip away.
I like Gallim and always impressed with Miller’s high-flying, high-energy movement vocabulary that kinetically kicks the imagination. But this Pillow showing was not up to its usual sharp style.