Paradise Lost & Found: A Review of Paradise Lost’s Replay

Elizabith Costey ’16/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Krystyna Resavy and Marty Walsh in Shannon Sweeny's "ON." Photo Credit: R. Belleau Photography
Krystyna Resavy and Marty Walsh in Shannon Sweeny’s “On.” Photo Credit: R. Belleau Photography

Paradise Lost: a Movement Collective is literally leaping into Boston’s dance scene and turning it upside down. With a young cast of talented dancers and thespians, Paradise Lost has developed their own unique niche of Dance Theater.

In the company’s most recent performance, Replay, Paradise Lost shared four new works, showcasing the choreographic talents of Shannon Sweeny, Gabriel Nesser, Cassie Samuels, and Tyler Catanella. As the show’s title suggests, the four pieces are stories relating to a “replay” or a do-over. Each piece focuses on the memories and events that force people to look back on their choices and lives.

Replay opens with Shannon Sweeney’s, “On”. The Lights go up, revealing dancers scattered across the floor. As the music begins, dancers start to move. In constantly changing groups, the dancers pick up choreography, often repeating and cannoning. Sweeney’s choreography is beat and rhythm centered, which heightens every movement and gesture. Dancers begin to trickle off stage individually and in pairs until only four dancers remain. These four share their stories through a wonderful blend of silent acting, choreographed dance, and improvisation. “On” is a positive piece which plays on the ability to open up and let other people in.

The lights fade, but only briefly. With just enough time for a quick costume change and props set up, the dancers return to the stage for their second piece of the evening, “Game Night” by Gabriel Nesser. The audience watches four different ‘families’, dressed in blue, red, yellow, or black. The groups in colorful garb enjoy their family dinner and quality time, while the family in black looks on envy. Group by group, the colorful families exit the stage, leaving the family in black behind. Alone, the discord in the remaining family breaks out. The two brothers, danced by Tyler Catanella and Marty Miller, begin to fight; Kicking, shoving, and even dragging each other across the floor. The fight is brutal, and only ends when the other three families return to the stage. The family in black watches the other happy families in dismay and longing, all the while pretending all is well amongst their own family.

Devon Maddux & Austyn Davis in Cassie Samuels' "Connect." Photo Credit: R. Belleau Photography
Devon Maddux and Austyn Davis in Cassie Samuels’ “Connect.” Photo Credit: R. Belleau Photography

As the music and lights fade, the dancers leave the stage, hurrying to prepare for their next piece. The tables, plates, and chairs are removed, and the audience waits eagerly for the third piece. Within minutes the lighting turns blue and the dancers re-enter the stage for Cassie Samuels’ “Connect”. The dancers line the perimeter of the stage, their backs to the audience. Several of the dancers begin to move, while the remaining dancers remain stoic. The choreography spreads from dancer to dancer, becoming more pronounced. Samuels’ choreography is soft and impressively clean. The movements are clear and display a beautiful understanding of the balance between stillness and movement.

Dancers trickle off stage, making way for a duet to Daughter’s “Youth” between dancers Austyn Davis and Devon Maddux. The duet is gentle and timid, sweet and intimate. It is the joy of new love, until the truth comes to light. Krystyna Resavy strolls onto the stage, but halts abruptly upon seeing the couple and discovering her love’s betrayal. The endearing duet dissolves, leaving a wreckage of emotions in its wake.

After a brief intermission, the last piece of the night begins. Tyler Catanella’s “Haven” takes the audience through the first stages of afterlife. In a humorous opening, ‘office’ workers in button downs and ties lug dancers on stage, lay them down on the floor, and then take their leave. The unconscious dancers wake up dazed and panicked. They race around the stage in a chaotic jumble wondering where they are. One by one, they notice a bright, spherical light hanging at the front corner of the stage. They race for it, scrabbling over each other, desperate to reach the light. The head worker returns to the stage, lining up the dancers. She passes many of the dancers, allowing them to leave the stage, but she denies three. The three remaining dancers struggle to let go of their past lives and loved ones. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, “Haven” was a beautifully written story with wonderful character and depth.

Paradise Lost may be new to the Boston dance scene, but this company can certainly hold its own. Although this weekend marks the end of the company’s performance season, keep an eye out for their jam sessions and other unique events coming this spring.

Check out Paradise Lost’s Facebook page and website for more information:

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