Kate Weare is the inaugural artist-in-residence at BAM Fisher. The product of that residency, Dark Lark, is a confusing mix of set design, attention-grabbing costumes, whimsical props and an all-too-spare movement vocabulary.

Dark Lark © Keira Heu-jwyn Chang
Dark Lark
© Keira Heu-jwyn Chang

Leslie Kraus’ opening sequence – in which she approaches and retreats from corner-seated electro-acoustic cellist Christopher Lancaster, and moves a butterfly to different parts of her body – felt quiet and invitational (if more than a little Silence of the Lambs), as if the audience would soon fully enter the world of sexuality and self-awareness that Ms Weare spoke of in her program. Unfortunately, this world never materialized. What followed was instead an understated collection of pelvis-centric movement and a bewildering introduction of seemingly unrelated props – long white poles, a shroud, a fan. Ms Kraus, as always, proved herself the worthy muse of Ms Weare: Kraus has a fiercely intense gaze and a filigree touch, allowing her to flick arms and legs with a pin-prick exactitude. And though she is admirably partnered by the male contingency of Ms Weare’s company – the tightly wound Luke Murphy, the serene Douglas Gillespie and the coltish TJ Spaur – this is a piece in which there is far too much going on and little actually happening.

Most of the evening-length work is primal and intense – partners are shared, swapped and then fought over. Ms Kraus and Jacqueline Elder are raised while held under the arms, with legs splayed to a deep plié in second, and faces fraught with desire. Ms Kraus lays her torso atop Mr Murphy’s knees, and circles, making it immediately clear that this is an episode of eroticism, despite the exclusion of normally erotic body parts. But in other instances, Ms Weare depends too heavily on recognizably “sexy” moves, namely opened legs and a rocking of the pelvis. The entire piece feels as if something is bubbling and brewing just beneath the sexual surface – even a failed attempt at a hyper-speed folk-dance is, if nothing else, intense – but this remains a purely superficial motif. There is no explosion.

Kurt Perschke’s set design resembles nothing as much as a camp-ground, with its tent-like structures that light up sporadically. (I could not discern any pattern or reasoning to their sudden illumination.) Mr Lancaster’s score is appropriately moody and zealous. (He is a show in and of himself, slapping and scratching his cello to the point of distraction.) Two costume changes stop the show, with varying degrees of success. Mr Gillespie’s gold-sequined platform boots and Rum Tum Tugger-esque fur collar introduce an entirely different sexuality. Ms Weare wisely gives the audience ample time to absorb this moment, and equally wisely follows it with a sultry, at times predatory, duet between Mr Gillespie and Mr Murphy. When, near the end of the piece, Mr Spaur appears beneath a shroud, with a fan in-hand and a white turtle-neck top, it is less of a surprise and more of an accepted bit of seemingly non sequitur design. We never understand the relationships among these dancers, though partnerings are frequent. The long white poles wielded by various members of the company seem to have no clear effect on the through-line, or the dancers whose movement they delineate; they are no more than another opportunity for puzzlement. Ms Weare clearly has an inquisitive and highly creative mind, but there is too much to sort through here.

***11