The home we inhabit

Philly Fringe 2020: JCWK Dance Lab’s ‘The Other Side of the Window Screen: HOMEbody’

2 minute read
Something just out of their grasp? The ‘HOMEbody’ ensemble. (Photo by Juliana Wall.)
Something just out of their grasp? The ‘HOMEbody’ ensemble. (Photo by Juliana Wall.)

The 2020 Fringe Festival has gone mostly digital, with many shows now available online for the duration of the fest, including JCWK Dance Lab’s The Other Side of the Window Screen: HOMEbody. Melissa Strong reviewed a live performance in pre-pandemic February, and I was curious to see how the evening translated to the other side of our computer screen in the new virtual world.

Screening dance

For the Fringe Festival, JCWK Dance Lab presents a curated website with links to a 2019 performance filmed at Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania. The website also links additional short films and discussion of the research process that went into the creation of the piece. It is nice to have the backstory on a work of art, but dance is a form of communication—it needs to work on its own. So I watched HOMEbody first. Five women in white, with belled bottoms split to the knee, danced solos and combinations (dancers Laura Baehr, Erin Coffey, Sarena Kabakoff, Kyleigh Kover, and founder Jessica Warchal-King).

Paul Fejko’s score propels the percussive movement. Angular, stretched extensions raise the tension and then, suddenly, pointed feet bend, sketching circles from the ankle. The dance includes yoga and martial pose movements. Arms are often held up, angled or outstretched, as if the dancers are reaching for something just out of their grasp. Home, maybe—a concept we perpetually seek, but seldom find. When I thought of “home” in the piece, though, I envisioned not a place but the bodies we inhabit, the lived bodies of the dancers, and our own bodies as we unconsciously synchronize with the movement on the screen.

A video of discussion with choreographer Warchal-King and the dancers bore out this interpretation. Home is how we inhabit our bodies, and how our bodies inhabit space. The piece was created for live performance, and while it holds up on video (I watched it on my television), it felt a bit too long.

Rediscovering home

If the second part of “home,” the space we inhabit, did not come through as much in HOMEbody, it was achingly clear in Rediscover, a short film by visual artist Jake Buczewski. The film follows Warchal-King in a solo performance as she returns to her home, Reading, Pennsylvania, after a long absence. The research notes tell us that Buczewski is her cousin, also from Reading, and he captures an intimate view of Warchal-King as she contemplates, in movement, the less-traveled parts of the city. The emotions are complex, and a bit sorrowful. The city looked faded, gone to weeds in places. Coming home isn’t always comfortable, but I can imagine turning to Rediscover in odd moments just to re-experience that glimpse into a life.

Image description: a trio of dancers in white on a blue-lit stage make a single graceful sculpture with arms outstretched.

What, When, Where

The Other Side of the Window Screen: HOMEbody. JCWK Dance Lab, part of the 2020 Fringe Festival. Through October 4, 2020. Get tickets here.

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