Kelley Donovan Returns
Insite Magazine © 1997
October 1997
By John Vallela

“Kelley Donovan Returns”

Kelley Donovan performing Strange Attractor
Photo by Michael Hamilton.

After a two year hiatus forced upon her by an injury, Kelley Donovan had had it. The world of dance beckoned and she responded as best she could. Freedom of movement has been taken away from Kelley by an injury that has not yet healed, but dance is much more than personal movement to this chreographer. It is also collaboration, invention, emotion and presentation. With all of these avenues available, Kelley's road back seemed much more inviting.

In May of this year, she decided to test the waters by putting up a call for dancers in the colleges and dance studios around town. At the same time she asked her doctor about the injury and was told to try a walking cast for a month. What appeared to be disastrous timing turned foruitous. While the injury healed, dancers kept calling, well over thirty in all.

"A few years ago I would have been lucky to get half that many calls. In 1991 when I was starting there were hardly any spaces to perform or dancers for that matter."

What the large number of dancers allows for is time to perfect each piece, certain dancers concentrating on each. Rehearsal times are more flexible and the demand on each person is manageable. Still, the thought of rehearsing from early July until mid-September to perform two nights at Green Street and one day at MIT might seem excessive. For Kelley to inspire the group and keep them motivated was a joy. "These people love dance and love to dance. The problems I had physically, which were the basis of many of the dances had to be resolved by the dancers. Our collaboration created the dance, maybe my vision and their bodies and interpretation."

At rehearsal the Sunday before performance night, the dancers, seventeen in all ranging in age from 18 to late thirties, all female with various sizes and shapes and levels of experience, were all present and running through the show from beginning to end. The concerns were precision of movement, sound cues, where to stand in the wings and costumes that were too short or might fall apart in the wash. (these were corrected and changed completely by showtime). What struck was the pleasure and support permeating the stuffy space. Pleasure in performing, in the movements themselves, laughter erupting as "Plunge" a comic farce of dance that was a real hit with the Opening night audience is run through.

For Kelley, creating the set of dances was a process of transformation and healing. She was even willing to dance a piece called "Sqirm" in which two things were very apparent. One, Kelley is a powerful performer with a command of the stage and the audience that was sometimes profound. Two, she is injured still. The dance's most powerful image is that of her brown socked ankle twisted underneath her.

Opening night was a mixed performance, with the first two pieces, "Strange Attractor" and "Catching Up" as well as the aforementioned "Plunge" the strongest pieces, while "Silence," an ensemble piece about grieving with some very emotional moments and images showing the most promise. That's the thing. Once created a dance is alive. It can be performed again and again. It can change or it can die. In Boston, that is also true of the entire dance scene. Kelley Donovan is a perfect representation of that irrepressible nature.

It's a much more vibrant feeling today with Green Street Studios, The Dance Complex around the corner and Impulse Dance down the street in Boston among many others. For the audience, there is nothing so important as support for the small independent production. Your ticket inspires other new choreographers to create and new spaces to open. Best of all, you get to watch a process of dance becoming a part of your life. Whether it be a new choreographer finally being discovered or a dancer getting her big break. Being there eat the beginning, the real source is a special joy. This space will be devoted to that idea.

A Review of "Metamorphosis" in September 1997

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