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VPR's coverage of arts and culture in the region.

Nadworny: Close Encounters

For about an hour, I was one of 30 audience members sitting in a ring on the Main Stage of Burlington’s Flynn Center while four strong, agile and graceful women danced in and around us. It was a remarkable performance - one of four shows by Adele Myers and Dancers.

It’s unusual to sit that close to performers – and as the show went on right in front of us, we watched their strenuous feats of movement and synchronicity, we heard their more labored breathing up-close, and we saw clearly their beads of perspiration. Often they’d stand right by us, and look directly at us.

The dancers asked us to practice and perform different rhythms with our feet that they incorporated into their choreography. We each took turns ringing different bells while the dancers twirled inside our circle of chairs. We flicked on, and off, small boxes with different colored lighting.

It was inspiring to see such power and beauty so close. In our circle, we could even watch the faces of other people in the audience, something I’ve very rarely experienced. And there were lots of smiles from both dancers and attendees.

Most people want to sit as close to the action as possible when they see a show – and this was one of the most intimate performances I’ve ever attended. I can’t imagine getting any closer – and it’s one of the reasons why we all left the theater thinking this was something we’d never forget.

In a recent design project I led on people attending arts and cultural events, we asked people to describe the best show they’d ever seen. At least half of them responded that the shows they remembered best were the ones that, in their words, were most “intimate” – the short distance between them and performers increased their ability to form a long-lasting connection to the experience, one that years later, they were still able to recount in vivid detail.

I don’t know if this Adele Myers and Dancers show will make it into my all-time top-ten list. But I do know we all left the theater thoroughly uplifted and inspired, knowing we’d just witnessed something quite extraordinary.

My wife Bella left with the determination to sign up for a new dance class herself. And that’s probably the best indicator of the power of this close encounter with the arts.

Rich Nadworny is a designer who resides in Burlington and Stockholm.
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