Saudade, a work by Joshua Beamish/MOVETHECOMPANY, made its NY premiere last night with heart, emotion, and a wildly talented cast of six gentlemen. Joshua Beamish has a resume that would astound dancers in every genre. It spans from setting work on the most prestigious ballet companies around the globe to working with the best of the best in the contemporary world to choreographing Olympic opening ceremonies to commercial work with Nickelodeon and ABC. I have not had the good fortune of meeting Joshua Beamish, but I get the impression that he can do anything!
With this knowledge in mind, I didn’t know what to expect as I sat down at the BAM Fisher Wednesday evening. I opened my program to find a brief synopsis of the show:
Saudade (Portuguese): a vague, constant desire for a reality that does not, and probably can not, exist. It is the love that remains after someone is gone. It describes a deep emotional state of profound melancholic longing, often carrying a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return. To feel saudade is to feel a deep incompleteness and recognize it as familiar.
It was a word I’d never heard, but that I’d come to understand and feel over the next hour.
Hailing from across the globe and institutions such as Juilliard, Ailey/Fordham, Rutgers, NYU and New World School, Beamish’s cast painted a canvas of love, loss, and longing with their bodies. The cast seamlessly transitioned from duets to group work to solos with nothing but strength, vulnerability, and artistry. I would be remiss not to mention Mike Inwood, the technical director/lighting designer and Hildur Gudnadotti, the composer. It was the marriage of Beamish’s choreography, Inwood’s lighting design, and Gudabadottir’s music that made this piece magic. One of my favorite moments was the first time all six dancers took the stage. With one swift movement of their bodies, the entire stage became side lit in a warm yellow light. The feeling of the whole production shifted in an instant. It was brilliant!
What I think is so wonderful about Saudade is that the piece will take everyone on a different journey. As audience members, we all sit down in the theater with different histories of love. We see the work through different lenses. Some might interpret a particular duet as a breakup while some could interpret it as one’s struggle with the self. I abandoned the need for concept and instead allowed myself to be guided by the feelings that the piece brought to fruition.
As Saudade came to a close and the audience roared, this quote by Maya Angelou came to mind, “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” Beamish’s cast spoke with the most brilliant dance vocabulary, but the feeling of saudade that swirled inside me as the men glided across the floor is what I’ll never forget.
Joshua Beamish/MOVETHECOMPANY will be presenting at BAM Fisher now through Sunday October 15th. For more information and tickets, visit www.BAM.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Madison Embrey is a Michigan native that moved to NYC in 2010. After completing her BFA in Commercial Dance from Pace University in downtown Manhattan, she toured the United States and Europe with a live-action stunt show called Marvel Universe Live! Madison is the 2017 recipient of the Lorna Strassler Award for Student Excellence awarded by The School at Jacob’s Pillow. Pursuing her dance career in NYC, she can most often be seen with a smile on her face and a coffee in hand. You can follow Madison on Instagram at @madisonembrey.