Briefs: An Episodic Adventure

In seven dances, Kathy Dunn Hamrick and a strong ensemble show how the now is rooted in what came before

Briefs: An Episodic Adventure

Briefs: An Episodic adventure

Salvage Vanguard Theater, 2803 Manor Rd.
Dec. 6, 3pm

In a pre-show introduction, choreographer Kathy Dunn Hamrick explained the structure of Briefs: Each of six short story-like episodes would begin the same way, and a seventh section would contain elements from each of the preceding six. In literary terms, Hamrick's structure was more complicated than a haiku, but less so than a villanelle.

But as with poetry, the form itself isn't as important as what emerges from the form's constraints. As Hamrick's talented ensemble of eight unfolded the dance in waves, like a daily rhythm, the lines between the similar and the different became inscrutable. The differences between present and past compounded until the old was nearly eclipsed, but the seventh section (like the villanelle) was a reminder that – regardless of our intentions and efforts – the now is undeniably, inextricably rooted in what came before.

The episodes took place in a murky dream state (somber despite the work's pun-ready title), achieved with a brooding score by Jacob Hamrick (Kathy's son) and penumbric lighting by Stephen Pruitt. The dancers, in stylish leggings and tops in grays and mauves, plus charming accessories – a too-short necktie and a newsboy hat – for the two men, could have been intimates inhabiting a strange dream: They were familiar to each other but detached, taking actions that would prove inexplicable in the light of day. Crossing the stage during a blackout before each episode's beginning, they swapped places for a swirling entrance before exploring, as if in the subconscious, possibilities of togetherness, alignment, and conflict. In one episode, Alyson Dolan and Jack Anthony Dunlap II seemed to slow time and excavate, with great care, the space between them. In another, Jessica Boone repeatedly grabbed Heather Quiring's face with both hands before stalking away.

All eight artists admirably embodied those what-ifs and looked at home in Hamrick's movement, which accepts, but doesn't require, Dolan's sheer contemporary versatility, Quiring's grounded balleticism, Dunlap's explosive jump and tenderness, and Mariclaire Gamble's quick, tall-girl aplomb. Like Hamrick's seventh episode, this strong ensemble is rooted in what predates it – the individuals, their own explorations, and all the things they've danced before – and yet it's an entity altogether in the present, for the work.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company
Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company's <i>Everything! Everything! Everything!</i>
Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company's Everything! Everything! Everything!
The achievement of this new work is that it lives up to its name, including all that is remarkable about KDHDC

Robert Faires, June 7, 2019

Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company’s <i>Company</i>
Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company’s Company
In this short works program, the troupe explored the solace and thrills in the company you keep

Jonelle Seitz, June 15, 2018

More Arts Reviews
Review: Disney’s <i>Newsies</i>
Disney’s Newsies
The Broadway strike musical occupies Zilker Hillside Theatre spectacularly

Bob Abelman, July 15, 2022

Review: Zach Theatre’s <i>The Sound of Music</i>
Review: Zach Theatre’s The Sound of Music
New production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic tries to forget the Julie Andrews film, and finds new political relevance

Bob Abelman, July 1, 2022

More by Jonelle Seitz
Blue Lapis Light's <i>Belonging, Part One</i>
Blue Lapis Light's Belonging, Part One
The work's dancers, whether on the ground or sailing through the air, were beacons of human hope and empathy

Sept. 28, 2018

Aztlan Dance Company's <i>The Enchilada Western: Texas Deep Fried</i>
Aztlan Dance Company's The Enchilada Western: Texas Deep Fried
In the troupe's latest choreodramas, dancing desperados persisted and partied

Aug. 31, 2018


Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company, Jacob Hamrick, Stephen Pruitt, Alyson Dolan, Jack Anthony Dunlap II, Mariclaire Gamble, Heather Quiring, Jessica Boone

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle