S/He Loves Me, S/He Loves Me Not, a modern-dance-meets-musical showcase, explores the giddy, passionate, turbulent and tumultuous — along with the sweet and triumphant — emotions inspired by love. Members of Moving Women, Asheville’s female-fronted performance ensemble and a project of Arts2People, partnered with area musicians and visual artists to present a funny, contemplative and heartfelt Valentine’s Day production that uses original music, installation art and modern dance to portray the ups, downs, trials and errors of partnership.
Fittingly, the inspiration for the show comes from a real-life love story, which began when choreographer Kathy Meyers and singer/songwriter Tom Leiner connected through match.com. While talking on the phone for the first time, Meyers asked Leiner what kind of music he played. To answer her question, he picked up a guitar and starting strumming. With those first chords, the tale of the dancer and the musician took flight. A month later, Leiner composed a song for Meyers, which he will perform at the concert. “It’s about love in its early stages,” says Leiner, smiling. “That, and it’s about the newness of it all.”
Though Meyers and Leiner hadn’t met before, it turned out they had many mutual friends. They called on them to help create a show exploring the evolution of love. Creative couples, including dancer Holly Mason and her husband, percussionist River Guerguerian, along with folk-songstress Annie Lalley and her partner, violinist Joe Ebel, jumped on board, weaving their own stories about partnership into the concert’s narrative. But the collaboration doesn’t stop there: blues singer Kat Williams and opera singer/rocker Crystal Bray (who is also a member of Ol’ Hoopty) will perform songs that play with themes of love. While guest dancers Kathleen Hahn and Erik Moellering will perform in a hilarious duet about newlyweds titled “Honeymoon over?” along with more ethereal, abstract work.
The progression of the show mirrors the nature of romantic love: It begins with attraction, then explores romance, intimacy and, finally, commitment. As Meyers describes, there will be “little duets about the development of love in a relationship, pieces that are abstract, literal, comical and sweet.” The concert’s theme, however, is not limited to romance. Jenni Cockrell, another of the company’s founding members, emphasizes that the show includes an “exploration of intimacy [as well as] friendship-love and the love of one’s self.”
Meyers, Cockrell and Erin Braasch, along with guest dancers Kathleen Hahn, Holly Mason and Erik Moellering, open the concert with a group piece that explores clichés. “It’s a comical piece,” says Meyers, that picks apart the notion that “love is blind, that love is the answer, that all you need is love, that all’s fair in love and war, that love’s the only game two can play and both win, or lose — and [the many ways in which we] try to define love.”
In a more abstract piece that Meyers says inspired the concert as a whole, dancers map the physical and emotional space around their heart. As Meyers describes, dancers were given a piece of paper and a pen at rehearsal one afternoon and asked to draw a map of their heart. Instructions were intentionally vague, allowing each dancer to find his or her own method to complete the task. “Each dancer contributed to this piece,” says Meyers, which “explores the spaces within the heart, places that are dormant [and] how to make to space for someone new.” Original installation art by Shelley Pereda provides a backdrop for the piece.
The company will add a little flare to the walls of the Asheville Masonic Temple, which will be decorated with heart-shaped and love-inspired adornments. As audience members climb the steps to the third-story theater they will encounter “love Goddesses, haikus of love, Valentine’s cards and notes,” says Meyers. Clad in goddess costumes, performance artists Julie Becton Gillum and Claire Elizabeth Barratt greet and welcome, while sultry tunes performed by the house band usher guests to their seats. And, since Valentine’s Day isn’t complete without a little sugar, cupcakes by Short Street Cakes, Kilwin’s fudge and other confectionary delights will be available during intermission.
Though this is a special Valentine’s Day showcase, S/He Loves Me, promises to be a thoughtful exploration of love that offers lessons and laughs for singles and couples alike.
— Aiyanna Sezak-Blatt can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 114, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
who: Moving Women presents S/He Loves Me, S/He Loves Me Not
what: Modern dance and live music about the trials, errors and beauty of partnership
where: Asheville Masonic Temple, 80 Broadway St., downtown Asheville
where: Monday, Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m. doors open/8 p.m. performance. $15-$20 per person/$25-$35 per couple depending on orchestra or balcony seating. Info: 215-2410 or movingwomen.org.