Friday night at the Clinton Street Theater began with a flurry of distorted bagpipes, a screen projecting images of dripping fruit and Turquoise Jeep's famous question: Do you like your eggs fried or fertilized?

So began SubRosa Dance Collective’s first piece, Matriarch, in a new show titled Heirloom, that's debuting as part of the annual Fertile Ground fest. Revolving around the stories of the dancers’ ancestors, the show tells tales of birth, growth, loss and pain as imagined by the company’s members, who choreograph most of the dances themselves.

One standout, aptly titled Goodbye Joy, revolves around the pain and grief of losing someone close to you. It opens with a group of dancers standing off to the side of the stage, loosely pulsing with smooth, fluid arm movements that recall the motions of the ocean. As M83’s “Wait” builds into a booming, wailing heartbreak of a song, one dancer loses her friend to the waves and is caught in a repetitive cycle of grief, which she expresses in angled, painful-looking kicks and jerks, as she eventually curls tightly into herself.

Design by Goats


Another highlight, cROSSed, is a playful number, and almost conflictingly so. Choreographer-dancer Carlyn Hudson’s movements exude joy, as decades-old wartime footage—bombs dropping from planes, doctors operating on soldiers—is projected on the screen behind. But Hudson moves brightly across the stage, with energetic kicks, excited waves to the audience and eventually a loose, one-sided waltz. At one point she lounges casually on the side of the stage, lip-synching humorously in perfect time to the Inkspots’ “We’ll Meet Again.” At another, she holds her arms out straight like an airplane, wiggling her head and twirling around the stage. It’s hard not to grin throughout as her excitement mirrors that of a little kid, but you’re left slightly unsettled, thanks to all the violence and death of war playing behind.

Later, Trussed sees dancers Zahra Banzi and Kailee McMurran braiding their hair together into one braid, staying the whole dance tied together. The piece includes a series of simple and delicate movements, one dancer kicking to one side as another reaches her arm out carefully to the other, as the two move with grace and care, compromise gradually leading to strain.

Design by Goats


The mix of classical and contemporary moves can become repetitive, but Heirloom proves a deeply personal and at times highly relatable venture into the relationships and struggles of everyday life—one that, while the message isn’t always entirely clear, feels emotional and meaningful regardless.

GO: SubRosa Dance Collective is at the Clinton Street Theater, 2522 SE Clinton St., 897-0744. 7 pm Saturday, Jan. 25 and 7 pm Friday-Saturday, Jan. 31-Feb. 1. $7-$20 sliding scale. Tickets here.

Click here to read more Fertile Ground diaries.