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Catey Ott’s ‘Total Emersion’ at Danceworks

Dance Review

Jan. 12, 2010
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I think choreographer Catey Ott, a student of yoga, wants to honor that practice for its power to center, calm, strengthen, renew and summon the courage to go on. The full title of the program presented by her Catey Ott Dance Collective at Danceworks Studio Theatre last weekend, Total Emersion = Emotion Emission Immersion, refers to the creative potential of fully experiencing the moment.

Raised in Milwaukee, having earned an MFA in dance from UWM, and now living in New York City, Ott has perhaps composed a letter home about a stage in her life’s journey. Her program notes describe a process from nave faith that talent and desire are enough to reach one’s goals, through depression and confusion, to a balanced view achieved in communion with others. The concert ends with a group dance celebrating collectivity, the twins of vanity and self-doubt overcome.

Although these are poignant ideas, I’m sorry that the concert didn’t work for me. At the curtain call, as Ott sweetly thanked the full house, a dancer gave her flowers with unguarded affection. This touching moment was in contrast to the narrated emotions of the dancing. There were passages of loveliness and intrigue, but I never felt close to the dancers because the controlled, repetitive, tame choreography did not individualize them. The partnering could have been much more meaningful. It’s a young company and the work may deepen. Atmospheric music was used to create mood; Diana Yourke’s unaccompanied singing was splendid.


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