Rosy Simas Danse’s “Weave,” at the Ordway, washed over the audience like a wave. It was a tactile piece, summoning the senses.
“Weave” was like a series of abstract landscape paintings that morphed and changed as the danced progressed. Simas and her performers and collaborators compellingly created a sense of place, of characters and of sensations in the episodic storytelling.
The piece began in the lobby of the Ordway, where dancers were interspersed among the crowd. Coming from the speakers was the sound of cicadas and other insects, creating an aura of being outside in nature. Eventually, the dancers led the audience into the theater, where the visage of ghostly tall grass was projected on a scrim. The dancers, too, moved as if growing from the earth — whispering in the wind.
That opening section set the tone for the rest of the piece. This wasn’t a show that was about being entertained, or watching splashy, athletic movements, or having a singular narrative arc that tied the evening-length piece together. It was much more challenging than that, a show that asked the audience to enter its world and be present with it.
Integral to the world-building was François Richomme’s sound design. From the chirping of birds, to ferocious gales of wind on water, to metallic sounds and reverberating drones, Richomme’s score moved through the space, enveloping it in shifting, electrifying moods.
Performer Sam Aros Mitchell’s skill at capturing vivid images and memories in short amounts of words also added to the piece. Visually, there were stunning moments, like the harsh quadrangle of light that seemed to imprison performer George Stamos, or the magnificent cape worn by Zoë Klein that took up the entire stage. Inhabiting this world were a cast of dancers of diverse backgrounds and varied bodies who moved as if by internal stimuli.
Often, their personalities — or at least different personas — instigated shifts in the through-line of the piece. As a solo or duet emerged and came into focus, a kind of enigmatic story unraveled as if through the slant of a broken piece of glass.
Particularly compelling was Valerie Oliveiro, who was recently featured in Morgan Thorson’s recent piece at the Walker Art Center, “Public Love.” Oliveiro’s unguarded gestural style was refreshing and worked well with the organic nature of Simas’ choreography as a whole.
The other four main performers were strong as well, and it was a nice touch to include additional community performers at the beginning and end of the two acts. The extra bodies helped create a fluidity between onstage and off and helped bookend the piece.
Sheila Regan is a Minneapolis critic and arts journalist.