“You never see a jogger smiling,” my dad likes to observe, and that also tends to be true of performing dancers. Sure, there are the forced grins on the faces of ballet, jazz, tap, and Broadway dancers, but no one assumes those are real smiles—they’re acting. Modern dancers tend to be somber, ethnic dancers serene. Maggie Bergeron, though, breaks the mold: on Sunday evening, the modern-dance choreographer and her company members were grinning most sincerely as they performed Bergeron’s new composition Wednesday Feels Like Tuesday, created and enacted in collaboration with the Orange Mighty Trio.
The OMT (Zach Kline on violin, Nick Gaudette on upright bass, Mike Vasich on piano) are notable for their dazzling technical skill and their ambitious compositions, which on their new album Infrastructure strongly suggest the influence of accessible minimalists like Philip Glass and John Adams, with a melodic folk element that feels natural and unforced. They’re a perfect fit for Bergeron’s style, which is similarly rigorous in technique but wears its heart proudly on its sleeve.
Wednesday—which had only two performances, both on Sunday, but will hopefully be restaged again soon—made effectively and amusingly thorough use of its space at the Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater. After the OMT played a few pieces on its own, its members opened the window shutters at the back of the stage to reveal Bergeron, Mackenzie Beck-Esmay, Leslie O’Neill, and Andrea Zimmerman standing on Lake Street. As bicyclists and pedestrians elbowed their way past, the women began dancing, pressing themselves against the windows and ultimately entering the theater through the door at center stage. Later, they made use of the theater’s center aisle and the stairs down to the basement.
The series of dances, like the OMT music that accompanied them, were thematically abstract but rich in movement and feeling. Bergeron and her dancers interacted with the musicians physically as well as artistically: each of the three OMT players had a pas de deux with a company member. Kline was carried across the stage, Vasich played with a dancer sitting on his shoulders, and Bergeron and Gaudette—who are in a personal as well as a professional relationship—had a tender dance with Gaudette’s outsize instrument. It was a memorable, intimate evening with a group of very talented performers who, despite their aesthetic ambition, aren’t afraid to leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling.