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.