New contemporary dance piece, “Honey,” comes to South Philly

The FringeArts production explores relationships among humans and throughout nature.

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“Honey,” which runs from Sept. 13 to 15 at Chi Movement Arts, 1316 S 9th St, examines the oozing sweetness often fostered through dedication – both in nature and in love. (Grace Maiorano/SPR)

Whether referring to a loved one or a supplement to tea, “honey” has a few meanings.

In an upcoming FringeArts production, a company of contemporary dancers is conveying their own interpretations to the word.

Choreographed by local dancers Evalina “Wally” Carbonell and Melissa Rector, “Honey,” which runs from Sept. 13-15 at Chi Movement Arts, 1316 S. 9th St., examines the oozing sweetness often fostered through dedication – both in nature and in love.

Carbonell is adding honey to her family of choreographic FringeArts works, including pieces that focused on liquids such as milk. 

“Honey felt like another substance that I was attracted to as far as that was going,” she said. “It has elements of soft and sweet and flowing, but it’s created by these really busy bees that are quite the opposite of flowing honey. Busy, busy, busy creates something that is flowing and beautiful.”  

In approaching “Honey,” Carbonell, a dance artist with Kun- Yang Lin/ Dancers, collaborated with Rector, the assistant artistic director of Koresh Dance Company, to bring “Honey” to life. 

Rector’s movement and meaning of honey would come to offer a contrasting yet complementary take on Carbonell’s denotation.

Both choreographers lead a group of dancers through various pieces, which were later weaved together for the performance.

Set to the sounds of new age music, Carbonell’s dances take audiences on a “textural journey” of honey, exploring the natural aspect of the substance. The abstract interpretation takes place in a tree, as dancers, who are dressed in earth-toned costumes, embody an ambitious living organism – whether an animal or plant. 

“It feels like a mixture of a bumblebee and also very nature-y,” said dancer Sophie Malin. “It feels very earthy to me. And I know our trio, I really feel a sense of sweetness and happiness. It’s hard for me to not smile and have fun in that section just because all the movement is gooey, and it brings that sensitive side to it. But, in the beginning, I feel like a busy bee, so there’s a lot of nature textures that we go through that I feel very connected to.”

Rector’s piece, on the other hand, is more “pedestrian,” examining the everyday lives of humans as they walk down the street. It’s suggested that these dancers are lingering near the “branches” where the other dancers perform, as the scenes “zoom in and out” of the “tree.”

Set to jazzy music, the movements are more humanistic, evoking feelings of love and compassion.

“We’re the community working really hard to create some sense of flow, and like in any organization, or group, a lot of times relationships aren’t easy,” Carbonell said. “They take a lot of work. And, you feel that sense of stress and effort….Only through pushing through those moments of challenge can we find that sweetness.”

Though separate ideas, the two pieces, which are intertwined to one another during the hour-long show, allude to the sense of collaboration behind both meanings of honey, including buzzing bees making the substance or folks expression compassion. 

This kind of partnership lends itself well to dance in particular. 

“When I’m dancing in this piece, I feel that honey is a community,” said dancer Weiwei Ma.  “In this piece, we have several times we call the party time…So we can bring all the people joining us. Enjoy this group. Enjoy this party time in this dance community.”

The performers say they hope this sense of community translates to audiences. 

In a world of growing isolation, perhaps, individuals can learn a lesson or two from a substance as simple as honey – both its literal and figurative definitions.  

“I hope (audiences) walk away with a better understanding of what it means for us to be connected,” said dancer Brian Cordova. “Because I think, especially in this day and age, we talk about it a lot but we don’t necessarily commit to the idea. And, I think that this kind of work definitely lends itself to being able to understand that through the challenges of relationships, we still are connected.”

To learn more about “Honey,” visit fringearts.com/event/honey/.