Hidden Power: Dance Plus Performance Series

Dance+ Performance Festival, Week 1

Last night was the opening of Conduit’s annually curated performance festival. It’s a chance to see local and regional artists reaching across disciplines to collaborate on new experimental works. The festival offers two different programs, one this week, one next week.  This week offers four works split with a 10 minute intermission.

Black Friday: Parking Lot Dance II started out the night with three screens projecting a choreographed animation piece by Paul Clay. Distorted body figures, awkward digital manipulations and modern totems worked together to create a very bizarre and disturbing piece. There is certainly a dark sense of humor that creeps in. I watched with a strange wave of emotions and thoughts arising.  Somehow, I was caught off guard by the way it captivated me. At times the repetition of movements along with the music created a sort of meditation.

After a few moments of readjustment and preparation, Beast begins. Three large objects rest on the floor near the back. One red. One white. One black. Behind the white, there is a body lying down and two legs are all that are revealed. Two dancers move around the floor. Slowly at first. Almost casual. Focused. Serious. Are they aware of each other? They move in thin white long sleeve tops with hoods covering their heads. Eventually they move together, both making solid attempts at throwing off their garments with full body thrusts downward, no hands. Now more exposed, they move more freely, more severely with nude body suits.

The music is haunting and dark. The black object is manipulated, pushed along. Evoking power once adorned atop the head. The red object trails along while behind the white we see bodies in motion. Hidden, sort of… The red object strikes something inside me. As I watch the way it is so carefully held and carried along, I think about the way we adorn ourselves, the importance of protection, the unconscious ways we hide and cover ourselves with a beautiful exterior. All the while, the white object moves slowly closer continuing to slightly cover the passionate entanglement.

After a short intermission, Revivify begins. Alter Structure creates the sound from the middle of the stage. Two figures all in black stand precariously on each side in the back. Arms stretched out and bent, their shadows create a single entity hovering above them. Slowly as they move, this creation continues to evolve. Their heads completely covered, sparkling silver in the light.

They move forward. Becoming aware of the other, they move parallel, circling around and around. They seem to be in the throes of a deep transformation. A process that completely consumes them. The music finds its pulse and there is a quickening, a nervous intensity hinting at something. These alien beings moving closer towards…what?

And then there is Luna. A piece by visiting artists Anna Conner + Co. The first thing I notice is the oh so flattering costume design. Right away I begin to feel my heart stirring. The music is so moving and the choreography is beautiful. Three women creating so many different dynamics in such a short time.

During the first part of this piece I was reminded of my childhood. Growing up an only child, I used to make games for myself. Pointless tasks that devoted all my attention. Something about those innocent games held so much meaning. I created my own small world where I was in control. As the piece progresses, it becomes more complex. Charged with displays of power and control, dependency, erotic yearnings and intense vulnerability. Somehow there is an innocence that feels fully supportive.

I appreciate the diversity of the work showcased in the first part of the two-week program. Each with a unique and honest voice, with compelling and thought provoking themes. I am excited to see what the program next week has to offer.

Part 1 will be running July 11 and 12 @ 8:00 pm
Part 2 will be running July 17, 18, and 19 @ 8:00pm

For more information about the series, visit Conduit’s homepage. To obtain tickets, click here.

Paula Helen

By Paula Helen

Gravitating toward spirituality and poetic narrative, Paula has recently allowed the passion of movement to connect with writing. Practicing Butoh directly, while studying all forms of contemporary dance through the process of cultural journalism, she has developed a new level of appreciation for all the performing arts.

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