Robert Moses Kin, SF

Written by:
Joanna G. Harris
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The Cinderella Principle
Robert Moses Kin

Robert Moses Kin, SF
Photo: by Chris Hardy

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts,   San Francisco  
March 25-27, 2010

Cinderella…or Orphan Annie?

Choreographer Robert Moses has undertaken a complex project titled  
“The Cinderella Principle,” a world premiere, a collaboration with  
projections by Bill Morrison and text by Anne Galjour. Although the  
original texts of the Cinderella story involve a child within a family  
though abused by her stepmother and her step-sisters, Moses’ work  
takes as its thematic material the efforts of couples, gay and  
straight, to conceive and/or adopt children. It is an important topic,  
well known in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is realized in the text,  
the set design by Erick Flatmor, in the wire figures by the dancers,  
but not thoroughly amplified by Moses’ choreographic material Perhaps,  
in Cinderella fashion, the children are rescued; perhaps , though not  
so, they live happily ever after.

Costumed in white by Mary Domenico,the full company of eleven dancers  
enter the stage with a slow stylized walk which, along with tight  
interactions, duets and small groups, acts as basic movement for the  
piece. Sometimes the women dancers walk on groups of the men: often  
they are lifted and placed close among others. Throughout the work,  
these moves provide a sense of intimacy. The text is ‘illustrated’ by  
a mother figure, Katherine Wells, partnered in the first half by  
Brenda Berthel, and later by Nicholas Korkos who lead and protect a  
“daughter, “played by Natasha Adorlee Johnson. The partnering reveals  
various tensions: consolation, anger, care, resolution.
Other company members provide the movement montage for the dramatic  
action. Todd Reynolds in collaboration with Kid Beyond played the  
deafening sound score. Despite Moses’ note that, “the subject is close  
to my heart,” The Cinderella Principle” wears down and toward the end,  
dissolves into repetitive movement and that slow walk.

Two dances preceded “Cinderella.” They were “Towards September” (2009)  
and “Hush”(2008). The most interesting moments in “Towards September”  
were in the opening when a group of five, and then six dancers stood  
close and exchanged places. What followed was Moses’ “signature”  
material: gestures within the body space and to another, wrapped  
contact and balances in duets and trios and always, lifts, lifts and  
more lifts, often followed by split rolls to the floor.  This is all  
very acrobatic and admirable in the dancers’ skill, but its expressive  
nature is unclear. “Hush” gave us a change of pace. It is a slow duet  
between Wells and Barthel to unidentified ‘romantic’ music of Ralph  
Von Williams (note: it should be Ralph Vaughn Williams). The two  
dancers are very skilled, projecting attraction, closeness yet  
independence.The choreographic vocabulary was essentially the same –  
with some added swings.

Dancers in the company, besides Ms. Wells, Ms, Johnson and Mr. Barthel  
are Todd Eckert, Amy Foley, Norma Fong, Jeffrey Huang,Natasha Johnson,  
Caitlin Kolb, Nick Korkos, Kelly Del Rosario,  and Mia Aiko Yamada.  
Matt Antaky did the fine lighting.

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