By Luke Dodge

A single masked woman dressed in black takes the stage as a poetry narrative plays in the darkness. Another masked dancer enters as mellow guitar music begins to play. Partially mirroring one another, they sway and twirl until you lose track of their identities.

This is the first of three dances which comprises “in the red,” a contemporary ballet written and choreographed by Haley Kostas. Each dance leads with a poetic narration focusing on vulnerability, individuality, and self acceptance without judgement, including such lines as “Honest shouldn’t share the same space as vulnerability.”

One by one a wooden bench, then a microphone, then a cello is brought onto the stage as another introspective voice speaks again into darkness, marking the beginning of the second dance. The man returns and begins playing the cello as a blindfolded dancer find her way to the center spotlight. Her fluidity of motion coupled with the precision of her body makes for an entrancing performance. This dance was my favorite and spoke to me on a visceral level.

The final dances incorporates five dancers moving in unison, their faces hidden by dark shawls. Silent at first, then the music builds. The group breaks apart and reforms, again and again, repeating itself. Like the inner workings of a clock everything is in motion with each dancer adding a unique movement.

Transitions between dances are slow and a bit long and be aware there is an intermission between the second and third dances. The use of masks to hide or reveal the dancer’s face was particularly effective in bestowing meaning onto the movements. There is an abstract storyline which connects all three dances together which was satisfyingly up for interpretation. I found my mind creating complex narratives to these wordless dance pieces which I have no doubt is by design.

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  1. Nate Carter on July 28, 2018 at 5:20 am

    “In the Red,” a contemporary ballet written and choreographed by Haley Kostas, is a true wonderment of physical storytelling. Dark, seemingly erratic motions are broken up by quiet, contemplative written vignettes regarding personal freedom and the burdens of creativity. Kostas utilizes emotive song selections and musical accompaniment to explore the true meaning of the negative space between bodies, a basic human interconnectedness, and each individual’s presence and importance in the world. Kostas has a unique ability to effectively communicate experiences outside her own mind; that is to say, she creates very personal art that others feel personally as well, in their own way. The pieces here are purposefully ambiguous, as she is unafraid to leave interpretation up to the individual viewer. Her distinctive stylistic approach lends itself well to dance as an artistic medium, and Kostas has clearly experimented and molded her craft into a working ethos that is equal parts liberating and devastating. A Kansas City native, Kostas has performed and choreographed throughout the United States, and her resume speaks for itself. For her to realize such a vision, and to teach and collaborate on that vision in her hometown, is a crucial and necessary component of her artistic integrity. “In the Red” is further evidence of Haley’s status as a gem of the Kansas City arts community, and her continued participation in the Kansas City Fringe Festival should be an essential goal for Festival organizers in years to come.

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