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Kristin Damrow & Company's IMPACT fell victim to its own brutality

by Joanna G. Harris
February 2, 2019
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
415.978.ARTS (2787)
Joanna G. Harris Author, Beyond Isadora: Bay Area Dancing, 1916-1965. Regent Press, Berkeley, CA, 2009. Contributor to reviews on culturevulture.net
The press release for Kristin Damrow & Company's latest work IMPACT, January 31 - February 2 at San Francisco's Yerba Buena for the Arts, says of the work: like Damrow's prior creation EAMES, IMPACT delves into the world of 20th-century modernism for inspiration. This time, to evoke the barren landscape of a future Earth ravaged by tribal divisions, Damrow turned to the Brutalist movement in architecture. Defined by its use of exposed concrete construction in often massive, hulking structures, Brutalism flourished for a period of about two decades from the 1950s through the early 1970s.

Danrow translated that architectural inspiration into choreography for ten dancers in black who worked as a tight unit in IMPACT and pitted them against five soloists. The group, although seemingly young amateur dancers, were able to execute their moves in close formation and with excellent timing. They outshined the soloists with the notable exception of dancer Allegra Bautista who brought passion to her solo.

Danced to music by composer Aaron M. Gold, the first soloist was Anna Greenberg who symbolically crowned her head with her hands. Next came Heather Arnett whose character in the work fought with Greenberg's echoing the movement of mixed martial arts. The two were followed by solos by Bautista, Shareen DeRyan and Hien Huynh. Each soloist except Greenberg's character confronted the group and was overpowered in different ways by the force and rhythmic impact of the group. They also fought with one another. Huynh’s dancing proved a bit more interesting in his ability to jump and turn in mid-air.

Greenberg's character appeared to prevail and dominate in her many confrontations with her special "crowning" hand gestures.

While each of the confrontations in IMPACT were fascinating they all went on too long and repeated the theme of "domination of the group over the individual" over and over. Damrow's movement vocabulary for the work also felt repetitive. Dancers charged into one another, fought and tangled, emerged or were subdued. If this is the face of Brutalism, okay. To this reviewer, the choreography does not translate the architectural images it was inspired by.
Allegra Bautista in Kristin Damrow's IMPACT.

Allegra Bautista in Kristin Damrow's IMPACT.

Photo © & courtesy of Robbie Sweeny


Anna Greenberg with ensemble in Kristin Damrow's IMPACT.

Anna Greenberg with ensemble in Kristin Damrow's IMPACT.

Photo © & courtesy of Robbie Sweeny


Heather Arnett, below, and Anna Greenberg in Kristin Damrow's IMPACT.

Heather Arnett, below, and Anna Greenberg in Kristin Damrow's IMPACT.

Photo © & courtesy of Robbie Sweeny


Hien Huynh in Kristin Damrow's IMPACT.

Hien Huynh in Kristin Damrow's IMPACT.

Photo © & courtesy of Robbie Sweeny


Shareen DeRyan with ensemble in Kristin Damrow's IMPACT.

Shareen DeRyan with ensemble in Kristin Damrow's IMPACT.

Photo © & courtesy of Robbie Sweeny


Shareen DeRyan, center, with ensemble in Kristin Damrow's IMPACT.

Shareen DeRyan, center, with ensemble in Kristin Damrow's IMPACT.

Photo © & courtesy of Robbie Sweeny

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