In world premiere of "Hive,” Black Label Movement dancers ponder group dynamics

  • Article by: CAROLINE PALMER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 31, 2014 - 9:12 AM

Carl Flink’s trademark physicality comes through in new dance by his troupe, Black Label Movement.

Black Label Movement

“Hive” is a world premiere from choreographer Carl Flink of Black Label Movement and as the title implies, the work draws inspiration from the buzzing hub of bee life.

But don’t expect the dancers to don yellow and black stripes — there’s nothing literal about this smart piece. Instead Flink directs his attention toward the accumulated energy that emanates from a close-knit group, whether its members are insect or human.

Flink has a reputation as a dance maker who injects a kinetic wow factor into his creations. The nine daring performers fling themselves into one another’s arms with abandon and sprint across the stage as if there were no walls to contain them. In “Hive,” seen Thursday night at the Cowles Center in Minneapolis, they gather in a stark realm designed by Marcus Dilliard and lit by bare bulbs, dancing with seemingly boundless intention.

The most interesting aspect of the work, however, is the slow-growing realization that this onstage gathering place is really like a club of sorts, perhaps an underground one in some off-the-beaten-track industrial space.

The dancers are drawn toward — and just as often repelled by — each other. There’s a fascinating dynamic at work in “Hive,” one that speaks to the desire to connect, but in a world where connections are not tentative. It’s all about full-body contact.

The evening also includes the Minnesota premiere of “Let’s Talk About Sex” commissioned by 2012 TED: Full Spectrum (also available for viewing online). The witty piece, set to appropriately fervent music performed live by Jello Slave (Jacqueline Ultan and Michelle Kinney) focuses on what would happen if your current adult self could talk to your younger self.

Affable performer Joe Crook is tossed about by the crew of dancers as he worries aloud about “outsourcing” the facts of life and how fear is a pretty worthless tool when it comes to making an impression on youth. Should be required viewing in schools.

The program opens with three 2006 works. “Lost Lullabies” is a particularly fine example of Flink’s flair for combining full-throttle physicality tempered with lush moments of grace. “Movement Short One: Red Rover” is about a minute long with a great comic pay-off. And “A Fractured Narrative for a Sad Ending” draws upon the dramatic impact of what cannot be held — memory.

 

Caroline Palmer writes about dance.

  • BLACK LABEL MOVEMENT

    What: Repertory and new works.

    When: 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat.

    Where: Cowles Center, 528 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.

    Tickets: $26, 612-206-3600, www.thecowlescenter.org.

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