There, the Magnificent

Kathy Dunn Hamrick's latest dance celebrated small virtues, little kindnesses, and the joys of being close

This is Carissa: (l-r) Mariclaire Gamble, Carissa Topham, and Shari Brown
"This is Carissa": (l-r) Mariclaire Gamble, Carissa Topham, and Shari Brown (Photo courtesy of Lynn Lane)

There, the Magnificent

AustinVentures StudioTheater, 501 W. Third
June 7

Before I begin, may I just say how nice you look today.

Oh, I've noticed. In fact, I've long admired your gift for dressing well. Ordinarily, I wouldn't address you, dear reader, so personally in a review, but I've been inspired to do so by There, the Magnificent, Kathy Dunn Hamrick's latest dance. In it, you see, the performers weren't just anonymous bodies moving about the stage but individuals, helpfully introduced to us with short paragraphs projected on the large screen behind them. The thing is, these weren't like the bios in programs, listing credits and professional accomplishments, but observations about these peoples' lives and characters. Jessica, we were told, "irons her clothes every morning, helps her nephew with multiplication tables, and hasn't missed a day of work in five years." Heather, who "would do anything for anybody," "makes sandwiches for the homeless every weekend." Almost all of the text cataloged good deeds and traits. That they were in the main small virtues and little kindnesses ("holds doors open for others," "loses at Putt-Putt on purpose") just made them the more endearing – they're the kind of details gleaned from close inspection of a life, seen by only the dearest of friends.

The comments engendered feelings of warmth toward the dancers, a sense that they were decent, considerate, giving people – a sense confirmed in their behavior: their bodies ever open, with arms outstretched, as if inviting embrace; their broad smiles that broadened more whenever one dancer caught another's eye; their quickness in pairing up and gentle partnering when moving together. These dancers always wanted to be dancing with someone, to touch and be touched. Their physical closeness mirrored that need we all feel to be close to others and communicated those singular joys of companionship and supporting someone we hold dear.

Layered onto this were suggestions of the past – the women's sleeveless tops and Capri-style leggings, and Ray Smith's accordion summoning such romantic hits as "Summertime," "La Vie en Rose," and "On the Street Where You Live" threw us back a good half-century – recalling days when we were more prone to be with and do for others face-to-face, when little kindnesses seemed to matter more. But Hamrick made us equally mindful of the future: A lone leaf kept fluttering by onscreen (one of Jacob Hamrick's joyous cartoon contributions) as if to remind us that time is fleeting and no one will be here forever. Its hint of loss echoed Hamrick's previous work, The Undoing of Nonet, thus making this dance a call to notice those around us and what they do, for us and others, before they're gone. There, the Magnificent's small gestures added up into something big: a bigness of heart both deeply moving and inspiring.

So I thought you should know that I've always appreciated your fashion sense. And what a careful reader you are.

More Austin dance
The Theorists' <i>Hiraeth</i>
The Theorists’ Hiraeth
A sprawling evening of art and community organized by Amy Morrow and company showed the challenge of editing in our age

Jonelle Seitz, Sept. 23, 2016

Magdalena Jarkowiec's <i>Us Kids Are Alone in the House</i>
Magdalena Jarkowiec's Us Kids Are Alone in the House
The Austin-based choreographer is home alone with her soft-sculpture mutants

Jonelle Seitz, March 4, 2016

More Arts Reviews
Hidden Room Theatre's <i>Houdini Speaks to the Living</i>
Hidden Room Theatre's Houdini Speaks to the Living
In this drama featuring Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle, a debate on the talking dead springs to dramatic life

Robert Faires, Oct. 28, 2016

The Institution Theater's <i>It Came From Your Brain</i>
The Institution Theater's It Came From Your Brain
This improvised retro sci-fi monster movie may pique your curiosity enough that you’ll want to visit the “drive-in” more than once

Oct. 28, 2016

More by Robert Faires
Jarrott Productions' <i>The Price</i>
Jarrott Productions' The Price
This staging of the Arthur Miller drama keenly appraises the worth of a life

Oct. 14, 2016

A Bicycle Built for Tunes
A Bicycle Built for Tunes
Steve Parker creates a music-making bike with Lo Fi Cycle

Oct. 7, 2016


Therethe Magnificent, the Magnificent, Austin dance, Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company, Ray Smith, The Undoing of Nonet, Jacob Hamrick

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)