Annex Dance

Annex Dance presented "Origin" at the Gibbes Museum, a new work inspired by artistic director Kristin Alexander's daughter.

With her Piccolo Spoleto Festival show “Origin,” Annex Dance's Kristin Alexander manages to take her audience inside the mind of a child.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise since the inspiration for the piece was the movement of Alexander’s 2-year-old daughter Anne. What makes this performance special is how Alexander, Cathy Cabaniss and Julie DeLizza Clark capture the dynamic wonder, assertiveness, timidity and passion of a young child.

When the three women move individually, there’s a sense of discovery to each move, like they’re testing the water and feeling what each limb is capable of. At one point, Clark stands with her elbows tucked into her sides, holding her hands out. Her hands are lax, hanging from her wrists; it's as if she were discovering their weight.

When the three women dance together, supporting each other, the movement becomes more confident, sometimes merging into unison gestures.

Some of the most vivid moments of the 30-minute piece occur when the dancers, lying on the floor, roll over the back of another, as if a child were climbing atop a sleeping parent in bed.

Against the back wall of the dimly lit Almeida Lecture Hall in the Gibbes Museum of Art are geometrically shaped projections from John Jannone. Cubes, prisms and spheres jostle discordantly against a featureless horizon where a stark white sky meets a blue sea. As the computer-generated objects collide with each other, they create the only sound of the dance piece.

The haphazard noises coming from the projection presumably are a kind of stand-in for a bustling world a child might not yet fully comprehend. Sometimes it’s just background noise. Other times, the incessant plinks and plunks seem to force the dancers to stop, sit and watch the images move on the wall. Then the women lose interest and return to their dance.

The choreography is a clever representation of a child's exploration of the world around her, at times unsure, then exceedingly decisive.

Reviewer J.R. Pierce is a Goldring Arts Journalist at Syracuse University.