The phrase “anyone can dance” may get thrown around a lot, but for AXIS Dance Company, it became a mission to prove it true.
AXIS performed at Person Theater on Sept. 6 and the performance was a must-see due to how enlightening of an experience it was.
AXIS formed in 1987 by Judith Smith with the idea that anyone, even those who are disabled, can dance and do what they love.
Since then AXIS has not only become known nationwide, but they have performed around the world as well and provided great support for the disabled community with their contemporary, physically integrated dance style.
Even the audience in attendance had a diverse grouping.
The crowd did not just make up Sonoma State’s student population, but also included families with children, the elderly and others in the disabled community that made for an almost packed house.
The performance itself was split into four parts, with five minute breaks after the first and third dances and a 15 minute intermission after the second dance.
These breaks allowed a short time to process everything and appreciate the different dances.
After a short delay in performance time due to making sure everyone was seated, the first dance entitled “The Reflective Surface” (which was also a newer piece) began.
Four dancers took part in the piece: Joel Brown (in a wheelchair), Emily Eifler (with a forearm crutch), Sonsherée Giles and Sebastian Grubb.
It began with instrumentals of a tick tock of a clock combined with a cello.
The contrast of outfits fit with the music so well; a combination of red and gray drew the audience’s eyes to the performers.
One of the most impressive parts about the opening piece was how fluidly all four of them moved, especially Brown and Eifler.
How effortlessly they performed made it so beautiful to watch too.
With the second performance entitled “Terre Brune (Brown Earth)” it began with opening poetry in French and deeper, dramatic sounding music.
Their costumes looked loose and comfortable in shades of brown that let Giles, Grubb, Bonnie Lewkowicz (in a wheelchair) and Juliana Monin continue their fluid dance.
Near the end of the piece the poetry could be heard again, which made me wish I knew French so I could better understand how the poetry connected to the dance.
After the intermission, the third dance of the night and also my favorite piece entitled “The Narrowing” began.
This performance was a two man act with Grubb and Brown.
It was the performance with arguably the most character besides the last piece of the night.
Both Brown and Grubb wore almost business looking attire with identical white shirts and black pants.
The music playing in the background changed around a lot too, but it fit so well with the pace of performance.
One moment it was a soft sounding piece, then heavy drums, then a combined sound of a music box playing with a slow paced sewing machine sound effect.
What made the piece so entertaining to watch was how both Brown and Grubb would mimic the other’s actions and play fight throughout.
In one particular part Grubb back flipped into a fallen chair.
A cool prop addition was the use of paper letters that not only got ripped up, but a good chunk also got flung about the stage.
The last performance of the night was a great way to end the show and also included the most people.
Entitled “what if would you,” it included Brown, Eifler, Giles, Grubb and Monin.
All five of them wore clothing in shades of blue and brown and jazz sounding music played in the background.
The performance itself seemed to be a study of gestures, as shrugging, waved to the crowd, throwing their arms up in confusion and shaking their bodies to the more upbeat music.
The show even included monologues to the audience, directly addressing them; at one point, audience participation helped form the last part of the performance.
By the end of the show everyone felt relaxed and welcomed with AXIS, as if becoming a part of their family during that span of time.
Hopefully they will come back for another performance in the future and that even more people are in attendance when they do.
It was a revolutionary dance performance that included everyone; the way dance should be.