Dark Blue Sea Finds Self, Untethered, In Collaboration at Proctors

“Dark Blue Sea” premiered at Proctor’s GE Theatre Thursday, October 3rd as part of Proctor’s Capital Records Live! program. The creative brainchild of Nadine Medina, a local choreographer and founder/owner of Troy Dance Factory and Synergia, the show is a dance/music/cinema questioning of how the self functions within and outside of a relationship. Utilizing local talent, it is also tremendously entertaining both visually and musically.

Nadine Medina and dancers Haley Wyant, Dellon Moy, Olga Bogdanova, Amanda Blount, Leigh Schroder, Kelly Jeanmaire, and Katherine Eberhardt on opening night of “Dark Blue Sea” at Proctors Theatre, 10/3/2019.

The show is a flood of auditory stimulation with locally written music performed live by local stars of the capital region’s music community. Girl Blue, Dark Honey, and The Sea The Sea perform the entire story together during the 90-minute show.

The multimedia approach of this presentation relies heavily on video to tell the story. Even the dancers and musicians stop to watch the video playing at different times, filling in where the music and imagination leaves gaps.

Telling the story of young lovers who break up only to find they are somewhat lost and uncertain of themselves, “Dark Blue Sea” takes the audience on a visually beautiful if not emotionally challenging trip. The arc of the story follows the lead dancer, performed elegantly by Haley Wyant, as she struggles through depression before finding peace in her independence.

Haley Wyant and Dellon Moy in Act One of “Dark Blue Sea”

Set over three acts, the story is a distinctly recognizable part of the human experience: couple falls in love only to find the relationship doesn’t grow one of them, the couple breaks up, the couple struggles to find selves post-breakup, and then they go on, only stronger.

But there are moments within this normative experience that are painfully personal, offering private glimpses into self-growth, depression, and integration that can occur after great transformation.

Medina’s choreography within “Six Moons” utilizes mirrors to show that relationship often reflects the self to each partner often in ways that we don’t like or want to see ourselves. Dancing in front of mirrors, Haley Want and Dellon Moy (who danced the male lead) struggled to find each other within the relationship. Medina’s choreography had them thoughtfully bumping into themselves and reflecting on their own identities more than finding peace and solace in each other.

Girl Blue’s Arielle O’Keefe clear melody rang out repeatedly, “I was not ready for you.” Because being in a relationship with another means we have to know self first, sometimes early relationships painfully show us the work we have yet to accomplish on ourselves.

The video on the screen behind the dancers and musicians represented the ugliness of argument beyond what dance alone could represent. While without words, the messages given between the couple on the video were wince worthy and crystal clear.

Later, in Act II, during “Dear Depression,” the dancers pulled at the lead character, accurately showing how proactively aggressive depression can feel. Isolated, crawling out of her skin (as shown by the dancer pulling at her clothing), fatigued, and unwilling to explore the world, the lead dancer’s very breaths reflected the pain depression inflicts on one during the grief of loss. Loss still hurts, even when it is chosen.

The video and music again perfectly showed the sense of aimless wandering after such a loss while regrouping internally. Set on desolate locations with construction in the background, there was the message that after a break up, there is the work internally yet to be done. Chromoscope videos subtly and thoughtfully helped viewers fill in the blanks left in the story with visuals outside of the theatre, carrying viewers to the reality beyond the stage.

The show had strong components that are notable, including three strong local bands that blended their talents to perform concurrently on stage to support the storyline. Rather than breaking out and having each group cover separate acts of the story, Girl Blue, Dark Honey, and The Sea The Sea shared the stage and most of the musical acts.

Arielle O’Keefe, or Girl Blue, sang many of the front vocals during “Dark Blue Sea”

And while Dark Honey added a raw rock sound to the evening’s mostly indie smooth sound of the other two bands, the groups’ collaborative performance really worked. Mira Costa, of The Sea The Sea, danced while drumming along with others, jumping with joy as they finished off “Everybody.” When O’Keefe sang background harmonies for Dark Honey, it was truly magic. No ego over shone on stage, with all delighting each other in shared talent.

Mira Costa of The Sea The Sea

The theme of the show, growing through separation, is somewhat ironic, as the artists were demonstrating the exact opposite: through collaboration, great growth is possible. But one must remember that each one of these acts has already established itself independently as powerhouses in the capital region before being able to join up and create without loss of self.

“Dark Blue Sea” still has two more showings: October 4th at 8 pm at Helsinki Hudson, and again October 11th at 7 pm at Cohoes Music Hall. Thought provoking, movement inspiring, and sensory stimulating, it is worth your time.

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