When you think street dance, does high abstract French art come to mind?
Imagine a giant, rectangular, three dimensional, glow in the dark box. Now see tiny colorful lights within the depths of this strange alien shape, skittering like fireflies in a jar. The music, by Julien Lepreux, is a delicate piano score superimposed with sirens and street sounds. We see a female figure in silhouette with hard sharp movements superimposed on her delicate slight frame. She looks like a comic strip martial artist. Four men join her walking, then running around the box looking over their shoulders as though being chased.
This is the opening sequence of Pierre Rigal’s ASPHALTE performed by La Compagnie Dernière Minute at the Rialto this weekend. This perfect marriage of street dance, technological innovation, art and storytelling was presented as part of the cooperative program France-Atlanta 2011. This international idea exchange launched in February 2010,is geared towards reinvigorating innovation into scientific, business, cultural and humanitarian projects. The projects span from green technology, kidney transplants and believe it or not art.
Coming from a background in athletics, economics, mathematics and cinema, Rigal gives us a commentary about modern day street life. The story is told with an extraordinary use of set design, simple costumes and character within an abstract street dance vernacular. The journey gets more interesting and complex from scene to scene as new elements of technology are introduced.
I love artists who work with props and explore their potential the enormous box of light, center stage, was leaned on, slid across, crawled upon and run around. It held dancers inside, changed colors and was used to project images upon. It created a back drop of saturated color to silhouette the characters. In some cases, with the help of costume manipulation, it turned the performers into inhuman shapes. Baby versions of the box erupted from it and had lives of their own. They became objects of desire, things to be stolen and hidden away. In the final act, with an explosive strobe effect, the box did the impossible and gave the dancers the gift of flight.
This American premiere of the work of Pierre Rigal and La Compagnie Dernière Minute was a success. My simple request is… do more work and please come back.
The Movement In Stillness – “First Breath” by Travis Magee
“First Breath”, a new exhibition of photography by Travis Magee
The Frieda and Roy Furman Gallery
Film Society of Lincoln Center
There are these moments among skilled choreography and seasoned performances where you lose yourself. If you happen to be experiencing this, you will most probably hear a gasp or a groan. There is no language adequate to tell the tale later because they affect you in a primal, visceral way. These moments transcend language and are too intimate to describe. To those of you who don’t frequent the many exquisite dance events happening around the world today… this is the reason to see dance live! The bitter sweet dichotomy can perpetuate a frustration, that the experiences can’t REALLY be translated to anyone who wasn’t at the dance performances, sharing the adventure. These feelings lead to the question, “How do we bottle this?”
Dearly Departures: “A Long Way… A Longer Distance Call”
The Lucky Penny has become a cornerstone of Atlanta’s cutting edge dance and technology. Dearly Departures: A new dance by Blake Beckham and her impeccable motley crew of technicians and performers, at Georgia Tech’s DramaTech Theater, have created yet another night of artistic excellence
The little black box theatre, more of a trapezoidal space is reminiscent of the old train stations lined with a long illuminated bench Stage Left, an “Old Skool” telephone booth Stage Right and a Split Flap display board hanging above. The experience begins with a Rolodex scrolling sound as the Split Flap illustrates very slow, movie style, credits. This sets a mellow tone, allowing the audience to hunker down in our seats and get comfortable. The lights dim then flicker off, in a “cool” and unusual manner, foreshadowing the unexpected and poetic experience to come.
The clickety clack of the display is overtaken by ambient music and lights go up on dancer Alisa Mitten. She smoothly makes her way around with long relaxed movements, allowing her fingertips to initiate her locomotion. As we watch, the Split Flap is feeding us contemplative ideas to ponder as the action unfolds.
“Away… Way back… Go… Go… Go back.” And a repeated mantra of “Begin again” & “Begin & End.”
T. Lang: A Woman Searching
The raw space at the Goat Farm is set up with four see through scrims hanging from the ceiling, situated in a square, to separate the performers from the audience. Seats are arranged in the round, meaning all the way “a round” where the action was about to take place. The first question of the evening is to figure out which side of the room we want to experience this evening from. Obviously, there is no right or wrong… just questions.
On June 7th, I found myself asking a lot of questions at the World premiere of T. Lang Dance Company’s performance of Post Up. The cast of nine extraordinary women were uniformly exposed in white bras and cherry red leggings. The uniformity brought to mind a complex woman or many women in a similar situation, perhaps battered or in a prison. An inquiry later enhanced by zig-zagged projections on the fabric we were looking through. The tastefully sparse costumes highlighted the performers’ beauty and I was reminded of how majestic women are, in all iterations, with different curves, hair lengths, textures and hues of skin.
The tone in this screened in cage was desperate, sad and played with themes of struggle and vulnerability but through it all a feminine strength became apparent. Not only through the athleticism of these prodigious artistic athletes but in an instinctual comradery that naturally exists between woman, especially at times of crisis.
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