As Community Education Center's New Edge resident this year, Meredith Rainey sharpened his choreographic chops on a provocative 40-minute duet called "Look Inside," which premiered there this weekend.
Rainey, retired after 17 years with the Pennsylvania Ballet, called upon Francis Veyette (a current soloist at the ballet) to take the male role. He gave the female role to Rosalia Chann, who has been making her mark in BalletX.
Rainey also pulled together a crack creative team. Jorge Cousineau designed the production and the moody electronic score with its sinister underbeat; Martha Chamberlain created the costumes; and Anna Drozdowski, known for honing many local artists' works, acted as dramaturg.
Cousineau's large Sol LeWitt-styled cube dominated center stage. With its alternating black mesh and white sheer panels, it was bedroom, living room, front porch - whatever the viewer imagined it.
A confessed addict of TV home-makeover shows in the early days after his departure from the ballet, Rainey's introspection about his voyeurism inspired this work about watching and how watching can affect a relationship. In Jerzy Kosinski's novel/screenplay, Being There, Chauncey Gardiner watched a lot of TV, too, and famously said the most misunderstood line in film: "I like to watch."
And don't we all like to watch when it is dancers who dance like this? What a pleasure it was to watch this pair in the intimacy of the CEC's black box - up close and personal.
Instead of ballet's scissoring entrechats, Veyette, long a favorite of mine, leaps with his arms and legs wide, X-like, and is thrillingly more athletic. Lying prone, he does two near perfect Capoeira-style levitations. Chann leaps into his arms buoyantly.
Veyette and Chann began dancing in whites - a simple shirt and pants for him, a flared dress for her - and later quick-changed into identical costumes in the negative - black. This further drove home the filmic nature of the dance in which the dancers magically melted into their real-time and pre-filmed video projections on the panels.
Inside this see-through house, Chann watches Veyette's moves, and, as they cross the stage, the two take to staring at us staring at them. She leaves, he pulls her back. She throws her arms around him, he rejects her.
Only when they kneel down together, each placing a hand over the other's eyes, can they be at peace.
Any artist worth his salt must take a cool, deep look inside from time to time. In doing so, Rainey makes us look inside his work and ourselves, too.