Through feats of strength, anticipation-filled movement and whimsical expression, Adele Myers and Dancers showed Keene State College exactly what it means be an “athlete of the heart.” This past Wednesday, Oct. 8, Adele Myers and Dancers performed their piece entitled, “Einstein’s Happiest Thought,” at the Redfern Arts Center. The event was well attended and followed by a post-show discussion with Myers herself, along with all five dancers featured in the performance.
According to the program for the show, “Adele began her company, Adele Myers and Dancers (AMD), in 2000 as part of her MFA Thesis project at Florida State University. The company is (usually) made up of four to five female company members … The work, brimming with robust athleticism, wit and a personalized theatricality tends toward a humanist perspective that emphatically emphasizes people dancing, not simply dancers moving.”
When asked what inspired the piece “Einstein’s Happiest Thoughts,” Myers referenced a specific quote by Albert Einstein, “’There came to me the happiest thought of my life when I considered an observer in free fall. There existed for him no gravitational field.’ And I just kept coming back to that and thinking about it, an observer in free fall and what does that mean. Is it the person falling who sort of watches the world go by or is it the person watching the person falling? Is that the relationship between the audience and the performer? Can we evoke this sensation of anticipation in the audience in relation to the performer almost falling?”
“I also just liked the idea of Einstein, obviously in reference to physics, because that’s what we deal with — time, space, gravity — that is what we do. And as choreographers that’s exactly what we work with and those are the elements,” Myers said.
“I liked the fact that there was an emotion in there like “happiest thought.” His [Einstein] happiest thought was really what led him to the theory of relativity. I liked the word “thought” because it just went to sort of a psychological processing. So it was like physics, emotions, psychologically processing and that felt all part of the fabric of the work. And so it wasn’t literal, it’s not some literal interpretation of physics because I don’t have that background, but really more a point of departure,” Myers asserted.
The performance incorporated a large ladder at the back left corner of the stage in which the “walker” [Morgan Griffin] of the piece slowly approaches and then climbs the ladder while holding onto a taught yellow string. The other four dancers of the piece continued to dance around these fixtures of the stage, with dancer Kellie Lynch incorporating a small yellow ladder towards the end of the performance. After viewing the show, KSC senior and a dance minor, Olivia Lynn, stated, “I thought it was a great performance. My heart was beating when she was on that little ladder. And I had already heard that she wasn’t going to jump … I was on edge, I was thinking she was going to jump.”
“They can do like the weirdest things but they look so athletic doing it that they make it look good,” Lynn said. Lynn concluded, “I was really anticipating the next thing.”
KSC sophomore, Raelyn Little, who came to the performance for the class ‘Dance As a Way of Knowing’ stated, “They’re so strong to hold their legs up the way they do and just holding their forms for that long is ridiculous.”
Another audience member, Lydia Randall, also a KSC sophomore and currently taking the class ‘Dance As a Way of Knowing’ remarked, “I thought they were very good dancers I just didn’t feel like I got to fully see their movements. It was so much stops and hold the poses [sic], but when they did dance I thought it was beautiful.” Little and Randall agreed that the performance certainly kept them “engaged.” In reference to Adele Myers and her piece, Little concluded, “Her work is beautiful.”
In describing her work, Myers used the phrase “athletes of the heart.”
“That just sums it up,” Myers said. ‘Athletes of the heart’ is a phrase first coined by French playwright, Antonin Artaud, in reference to acting. Myers described how the phrase resonated with her and how she felt this was also true of dancers — one uses vocal expression, the other uses movement expression.
“They are powerhouses and they crack their hearts open when doing it,” Myers asserted while describing the emotional and physical process of dancing. In reference to the research she did on Albert Einstein for the piece, Myers explained, “He would call daydreams ‘thought experiments’.” During the performance, there were also moments in which dancers wearing yellow afro wigs and sunglasses passed through the piece on stage and also appeared in the film projected on the screen behind the dancers. Myers referred to these dancers as “Einsteins.” She continued, “The Einsteins were like thought experiments… These like little sort of daydreams of trying to put the pieces together. And this whole thing then, for me, became like a thought experiment that I would take it, what’s in my head, and put it on the stage.” According to the event program, this tour of “Einstein’s Happiest Thought” has previously performed at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, Mass., Connecticut College in New Haven, Conn., in the Flynn Center for the performing Arts in Burlington, Vt., at Coker College in Hartsville, S.C. and will be performed at the American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C.
Caroline Alm can be contacted at email@example.com