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Charm City Dance: ADDICT Review

Shianne Antoine

Charm City Dance: ADDICT Review

ADDICT is a show that was choreographed and produced by Madeline Maxine Gorman. This show displays the different faces and the complexities of addiction. This piece is an evening length narrative about different individuals, families, and relationships experiencing the complex emotions related to addiction. ADDICT donated all of its proceeds to the Helping Up Mission, an organization in Baltimore that helps people that are homeless, impoverished, or suffering addiction meet the needs that they require. The proceeds from this performance specifically helps fund the Helping Up Mission’s “Inspiring Hope” campaign, which will build a new homeless center for women and children that are affected by addiction. Gorman’s choreography strives to change the community’s view of addicts and addiction. As Gorman stated at the end of the show, “I think everyone is connected to addiction”, we all may know someone struggling with addiction or someone closely connected to an addict whether we know it or not.

ADDICT is a multi media show that not only was choreographed beautifully, but exposed the raw talent of spoken word artists, musicians, and singers. All of the poetry was written by people that have been helped by the Helping Up Mission (HUM). These poems were published in a book called “War of Grace: Poems from the Front Lines of Recovery”. After a kind representative explains the importance of the HUM and the HUM choir sings two uplifting gospel songs, the show begins with the two musicians playing strings accompanied by a poem. “Maybe I’m too black for you to hear” the poet expressed to the Lord. Every entrance of a dancer was from stage left and they eventually found themselves in the downstage right corner, which I related it to be the “addiction” or “situation” corner.

The first story we see is about a couple where one person is dealing with addiction and his partner is encountering her own struggles watching him deal with it. A dancer, Rashad Ferguson, enters the space and performs various wraps around his torso and eye-catching quick shifts of weight. His movement seemed to give off a feeling of confusion and brokenness. Another dancer, Christina Dunnington, soon enters and the solo becomes a brief duet before the first dancer leaves the stage. Dunnington’s movements are very direct and clear in comparison to the confused and conflicted energy given by Ferguson. As Ferguson renters the stage, Dunnington’s energy becomes confused and broken like her partners’. They move in unison with reckless directional shifts filled with emotion, as if Dunnington was pleading with her partner. They resolve their duet with quick shifts of weight forward and backward, taking their bodies off balance in unison. This felt like they were fighting their struggles together. Dunnington ends the duet by facing Ferguson and placing her hand on his face, trying to center him, and he briskly shoves her hand away from his face and leaves her alone onstage. To me, this story didn’t feel like a romantic relationship between the two, looking at their interactions, but it did seem like they were close friends or siblings.

The next story involves a soloist, Deontay Gray, dealing with addiction on his own. He entered the stage crawling in a broken down fashion. His movement was a blend of controlled and uncontrollable movements. He would sauté arabesque up high and then crumble to the ground. This moment was repeated and made me feel pain towards him. How the addiction was making him ache was beautifully displayed through his body. The repetition of his movements stuck with me: the falling in a heap on the floor, the swiping the forearm across his face, all of it made my heart ache for him. The singing that accompanied this section was soft and Gray’s solo contrasted that quality. I felt sympathetic towards this soloist, and at the same time in awe of him.

The next story seemed to be about a family who was dealing with the addiction of their daughter. It opened with the mother, father, and daughter smiling together as if frozen in a picture frame. The daughter, Kayla Clancy, leaves her parents in the picture frame to execute a phrase of direct movements. I felt that she was presented as the addict in this story with her isolated movements away from her family. Within these moments, she showed a motif of holding her head or back of her neck with one hand. I saw this as Clancy trying to steady herself or maybe punish herself for what she was enduring. Her movement was very technical and strong. I could see how trained Clancy is with her suspended inversions and swift changes in her timing and energy. As the daughter is dancing, the parents’ smile drops slowly. A truly sad moment was when Clancy kneeled in front of the parents, Natalie Boegel and Blake Caple, waved at them, and they ignored her.

This story continued with the trio sitting in chairs and gently doing gestural movements while on them. The parents often slid down off of the chairs in a lethargic manner when the daughter tried to interact with them. Clancy eventually leaves the space and the focus is given to each parent separately. The father, Caple, moves from the inside out with combative energy. It felt as if he was fighting with himself or the negative energy around him. Caple danced beautifully and really drew me in, I did not want to stop watching him. He shook, crawled, rolled, and flopped himself from the upstage left corner to the downstage right corner and back again. The mother, Boegel, moved with great length in her limbs. This dancer let the movements settle into her body before she would dare to do another step. A memorable moment was when she sat in a low grand plié, head tucked into her chest, with her hands open resting on the top of her head. Boegel’s hands pulsed slightly and she slowly lifted her head to see if anything has been placed in her hands while she sat. The mother showed a motif of rubbing her hands on the inside of her forearms, sometimes gently and sometimes vigorously. At the end of this story, you can hear the daughter yelling “Mom! Somebody help!” while the mom is in the “addiction/situation” corner rubbing her forearms. This makes me wonder if the entire family is suffering with different addictions instead of the daughter being the only addict.

The final story is about a soloist, Destiny Cooke, overcome by her addiction. She enters onto the stage backwards and groggily. Cooke moves like she is overcome with fatigue. Her movement quality was astounding. Cooke would move slowly around the space, stumbling, and then would quickly present a beautiful line, suspension, or turn. It was like we were getting to see snippets of the beauty, talent, and potential within her character in between the large chunks of her struggles, stumbles, and falls with addiction. All of her technical movements were surprise moments that captured me.

ADDICT ends with the dancers all entering onstage backwards and performing the motifs they did in the sections we saw them in before. Boegel did the forearm rubbing, Ferguson did the head swiping, Clancy did the neck hold, and etc. The dancers then danced in unison that put moments together from each story. The dancers’ did a sharp sauté arabesque with their head up and fall into a roll was repeated multiple times. The dancers convened in the “addiction” corner as if to say that they’re not alone; they are all together and will support each other through addiction. At the end, the dancers, poets, and musicians walked around the space slowly looking at one another and then faced the audience in a straight line downstage. The lights were brought up in the house at this moment so we could all see each other, performers and audience, for who we are: human beings. The song during this moment was gorgeous. “You’d be surprised the secrets God reveals through the music of your soul” the lyrics stated.

As a person, dancer, and follower of Christ, I was so glad I came to see ADDICT. Madeline Gorman put together an excellent piece that opened my eyes and my heart to those affected by addiction. The stories that Gorman told were so real and important to acknowledge. Her work and her dancers moved me and inspired me. I do hope ADDICT gets another opportunity to be presented because it says so much in only forty minutes time. Baltimore needs to keep an eye out for Madeline Maxine Gorman. Her passion for dance and her choreography is a treasure that can help push her and our dance community in the right direction.


Read in Charm City Dance.

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