It took a couple of numbers for SueMo: A Dance Experience’s multimedia extravaganza Symbiosis to reel me in. Housed in the Marcus Center’s Wilson Theater on Jan. 12-13, its first two numbers — “Wash” and “Glacier” — were rich with fabulous contemporary dancers, but their accompanying piano ballads and message of collaboration seemed quaint in an era when the country is bursting apart at the seams. But when Symbiosis had me hooked, I was hooked.
It happened during its third number, “Ultralight Beam.” Clad in all black, the dancers began writhing to the controversial Kanye, and though they danced as a collective, the message was less that collaboration is wonderful, no question, but that the collective has the power to bind together and make change. “Ultralight Beam” also made the smart choice of letting a couple dancers step out of the crowd and take the lead. SueMo’s co-founder Morgan William’s solo performance in particular was rich with raw athleticism and off-the-charts intensity. The number placed third at World of Dance Chicago, so it’s no wonder.
Symbiosis only got better as the show progressed, showcasing more and more of the Midwest’s best dancers and other artists. The first half of “Action, Re-action and Words…,” for example, featured Jacob Durbin on drums with dancer Jasper Sanchez reluctantly obeying his beat. Sanchez was magnetic, pulling out seemingly impossible moves. The second half of that number was even better, with Brooklyn Lloyd taking the stage to read his poem “Promises.” Sanchez, no longer playing reluctant, beautifully portrayed the poem’s wrenching emotion. That performance enough would have been reason to see the show.
The following number, Juncture, was quieter, with Alex Seager and Morgan Williams dancing an intimate number. Juncture was rare in that it wasn’t choreographed by Williams, who choreographed five out of the show’s eight numbers. His choreography is so unique and expressive that I would be happy if he choreographed every show in Milwaukee.
Williams’ crowning glory, though, was the final number, “Imagery Portrayed.” The multimedia number effectively integrated dancing and gorgeous videography. All of the talented local dancers came together too as a collective, an incredibly refreshing mix. Now, performances that do not incorporate video and other multimedia elements will seem lacking.
At the end of the day, the excellence of Symbiosis is not at all surprising. Its leaders from SueMo, Williams and Melissa Sue Anderson, are firmly rooted in the Milwaukee and Midwest dance scene and know the dancers needed for a great show.
SueMo is a company to watch going forward, and we’ll have plenty of opportunity to do so. The company will be traveling, booking regional shows and continuing to bring their innovative dancing to local venues.