Brilliant Lectures NEXT ON STAGE ….DECEMBER 2ND
Shaping Sound: Milliseconds and Microwaves Matter When Matter Shapes but Story Rules.
October 19th, 2014— I have been provided the best seats in the house: I think, literally, the best seats in the house. I’m impressed by the seating arrangements. I’m still thinking Momix, recently presented by SPA, partially because of the name “Shaping Sound”. The show starts. Someone behind me yells, “THAT’s the choreographer.” He has hair, is similar in size to his dancers as he dances with them. By the intensity of that exclamation, I would have thought he was a giant. I have it on good authority that moving the dancers and controlling the interaction of the movements is what is difficult for a choreographer. Thinking of that, I’m thinking I see a warm up, a way to get these young dancers on the stage and moving, a way which doesn’t have much concern for the chaotic ‘un-choreographed’ feel of the opening. The show continues. They’re screaming with delight at seeing the dance and “ooooohing” at the man’s body. There’s a great response all around me in the audience. It’s the second show of the day and the main floor is nicely packed. Where’s the ‘shaping sound’? I ask myself. I see inexact co-ordination of movement, synchronicity just missed. Okay, there are some brilliant individual movements that cause oohs and aahs from the audience. Is that the limit of the ‘brilliance’ in this ‘Brilliant Series’ performance? One might make a good argument that the men were cast, partially for their beautiful dancer bodies. Jaime Goodwin is, strong, roundish, VISIBLE. I kept seeing her quads moving as she transitioned from one pose to another. There was a lot of moving from one spot to the next and from one pose to the next with these dancers. The dancers avoided ‘just walking’ from position to position. There was grace in, even, their most functional movements, so, that was nice to see. Folks are cheering; They really like the show and feel comfortable expressing their approval. The lighting is crisp, brilliant, almost ‘spot-on’ effective. I see performers doing representational ‘story-telling’ like not-fully-trained mimes. This leads my mind into a pet peeve about how mime is, to me, too much disparaged in the popular media. It’s easy to make fun of park mimes in their white-face. I take this opportunity to defend them and proclaim the difficulty of their technique and the years of training to achieve great mimicry. I feel I have to defend the art of mime, maybe because it can’t speak; they can’t speak for themselves, the mimes. Representational, non-verbal, story-telling narrative, is difficult to master. Mimetics, mimery, miming …. uh.. being a good mime is ‘high art’ and these dancers were pantomiming the plot in relatively unstable, unsupported, untrained mimetic movement. The audience is still with them. They use the good lighting to make allusion to Helmutt Newton photography and Vogue, 40’s gangster images and movies. Wow, they’re pulling me in, here. Oh, my, isn’t one of those ladies doing some amazing poses? What is her name? I can’t tell, but she has dark hair. Shape to shape, she has addressed every dimension, every angle, in her tableau presentations, way upstage, but way better than I’d started to expect I’d be seeing. The male dancers were strong, though individualized, even in their unison movements. I now notice how STRONG is the stage presence of another dancer with her blond bun hair and her mannish ways of creating powerful, memorable movement. Okay, there are some really great moves, some inspired seconds of dance in this show. Where is the ‘Shaping Sound’ part of the show? Could it be that they were ‘bragging’ about their set pieces and how they DID seem to be designed to not just reflect light but sound, as well? There were two main set pieces, a bed that looked a bit like it had been the rehearsal piece for an early nineties Madonna tour and a curved wall, split into two movable pieces with serpentine curved outshoots, coming together as a single diagonal, two-by-sixish curved wooden line on the white sides with matching white floor platforms and a flip side of mylar-ish mirrors on the black sides of the two pieces that could be rolled together to make a single long-rippled, sine-wave, wall piece or pulled apart as separates. This “Vogue” wall looked like it could have been used on a high fashion Vogue photo shoot. It was so brilliantly simple that I can’t imagine a similar shape, or even that same configuration, hasn’t been used before in the history of dance. In the opposite of a “We brought it so we might as well use it” feeling, which I often get from set pieces, this piece was integrated into the dance, to shape the performance in such wonderful ways, that I consider it and the use of it to be the proof of this choreography and this dance art. Over and over again, the Vogue wall, this perfect pose generator was used to make a new beautiful moment, a new ‘step’, a new ‘garden wall’, a new pose to show off the beauty of the dancers’ movements and freezes and body control. Was this wall enough to justify the Shaping Sound moniker? Maybe it was. Was all the sound prerecorded, by the way? I think it was. That’s why I don’t understand the millisecond, almost human-cued lighting on the, otherwise brilliant, Bohemian Rhapsody dance. The only thing that should have been able to have been ‘off’ by milliseconds is the dance movement itself, if modern light-sound coordinating software was being used.
The Vogue Wall was used to release some male dancer from upward red-lit nether region. Oh, it was a Faustus story. Or maybe it was a growing up into full humanness story, or a through foolish early adulthood story. So, it’s a STORY dance. Now, I get it. The audience is still there, clapping at every scene end. I found Waking Life to be a proof of control that Broken in Chaos seemed to lack. At the end, the audience is on its feet, not just because of the celebration of the 21st birthday of one of the dancers.
Wow! That Vogue Wall was great and well used and I can’t stop thinking about how amazing it was, the depth to which it became, to me, the identity of this show.