Female-only dance company tells raw and honest story on BPAC stage

From March 28 to March 30, critically acclaimed contemporary dance company Ariel Rivka Dance, or ARD, told a raw and honest narrative about the struggles women endure to meet society's unrealistic expectations.

ARD, led by artistic director and choreographer Ariel Grossman and her husband, executive producer and composer David Homan, celebrated its 12th season at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. This female-only company premiered two new works and showcased a diverse range of guest performers. The opening of the show featured the playful and vivacious world premiere of Rhapsody in K.

Grossman and Homan’s five-year-old daughter, Eva, had spontaneous dance sessions that became the heart of Rhapsody in K. Her free spirit, emulated by the dancers’ fluidity and happy dispositions, was a beautiful reminder that females, even at such a young and innocent age, are a constant source of inspiration.

The soundtrack featured the most eloquent live violin rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” performed live by Rebecca Cherry and composed by Stefania de Kenessey and Homan. This scene transported the audience back to their own childhood and reflected on the need for childlike joy in this high demanding society. It wasn’t all fun and games at the ARD show. The second piece, She, told a very different narrative, revealing the true thoughts and feelings behind the brave face of motherhood.

The dancers’ military standard unison forced the audience to the edge of their seats as tension built. The powerful image of the dancers standing in a straight line, hands trembling to the sound of the breast pump whirring represents the tedious and exhaustive process that is purely expected of women.

The choreography intentionally used the image of the line to show that all mothers are engulfed with the guilt of not being able to achieve the unattainable expectations they have for themselves. The unifying line symbolized that they don’t need to feel that they have to face those anxieties alone.

Furthering the narrative of the unrealistic expectations placed on women, the world premiere of Mossy, featuring company dancers Caitlyn Casson and Casie O’Kane, explored Grossman’s emotions associated with being not only a mother but a woman with a successful career in the performing arts.

Dressed in black, the two talented performers brilliantly juxtaposed artistically fluid movements with short sharp realistic choreography. Their movements constantly intertwined and manipulated one another to portray the interruptions in the creative process and how Grossman struggled to keep those two worlds separate.

Black fabric is replaced with white goddess dresses in ARD’s final piece, Ori. When the dancers first walk out, there is a sense of pride to be a woman. The dancers throughout this piece embodied the elegance of powerful women. They artistically made a very complicated and intricate dance seem easy. There is a great amount of sheer athleticism that it takes to perform this piece. The dancers constantly changed levels in which they performed the movement in the matter of counts.

This complexity in movement speaks volumes as women are constantly thrown challenges they not only take in their stride, but still do with immense passion and grace, which ARD dancer’s show time and time again throughout all four works.

It’s important to also mention that this female-only company prides itself in sharing its platform with guest companies. This season ARD shared the stage with Slowdanger, Alison Cook Beatty Dance, Tina Croll + Company, 277 Dance Project, Beth Liebowitz/Beth & Artists, Kyleigh Sackandy, Mignolo Dance, Amma and Valerie Green/Dance Entropy.

Inviting guest performers to all its shows allows for the audience to experience a great diversity of art and gives others a chance to tell their story as well.

ARD promotes healthy conversations about real issues that modern day women face. There was no better way to pay tribute to Women’s History Month.