Purchase Alumnus Kyle Abraham Returns with “Dearest Home”

Matthew Baker, during the performance of "Dearest Home." Photo courtesy of Kyle Abraham

by Paul Sacchetti

Accomplished choreographer and Purchase College graduate Kyle Abraham returned to his alma mater Oct. 19 to showcase his stunning dance piece, “Dearest Home.” Abraham, class of 2000, took his dance company, Abraham in Motion, to the intimate Black Box Theatre with overarching themes of love, longing, and loss. Pulling from his own past experiences, Abraham used mainly solos and duets for his six dancers, who gave unabashed performances focused on the powerful thematic emotion present.

“For me, watching it every time, it feels like, someone’s reading a journal entry of mine, but changing the inflection and the way they read every single time,” said Abraham. “So, it can be hard for me to watch at times.”

After the performance, during the Q and A, Mr. Abraham shared how his viewing of the piece has evolved since the premiere.  He talked about his own experiences being the template or foundation for the choreography.

He went on to say, “I think, you know, so much of this work is rooted in memory and experience.”  The tone of the work, inspired by Abraham’s perspective, was very dark, shown with a trio of dancers entangled in a mess of some sort of multidimensional relationship.

Matthew Baker, a dancer in Abraham’s company, had a solo where he peels off each piece of clothing and folds them, crying, before bursting into turbulent movement and running.  There were also endearing moments that juxtaposed the darker moments, such as Marcella Lewis’ duets with Catherine Ellis Kirk and Tamisha Guy. These dances seemed lighter and had less tension between dancers than the others.  The piece was full of complex emotional dynamics between each dancer that made for a story showing the spectrum of feelings that are inseparable from human relationships.

“It shifts a lot; the order is actually different, for one. The choreography’s also different,” said Abraham. “Tamisha and Marcell’s duet is different choreography than what it was for the world premiere and in the Europe premiere. The order’s still shifting.  I’m going to change it yet again.”

This version was possibly the last time audiences will be able to see “Dearest Home” with the specific line up and choreography as shown in the Black Box.  However, one interesting aspect of the show that will not be changing is the option for the audience members to watch the performance in silence, or with music.  As the viewer entered the theater, they were faced by an usher who explained the piece would be done in silence, but Bluetooth headsets were available to listen to the score during the performance.  The choice was made by Abraham, who said,

“This show being rooted in love, longing, and loss, I thought I would divorce myself of my first true love, that being music.”

The entirety of the show is immersed in the theme stated by Abraham.  He made sure of that by formulating dances that put the viewer in a full range of experiences, even incorporating the concept of having no music for the performance tying into his vision.