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More Flash Reviews
Review, 1-27: Hold the Line
Copyright 2006 Beliz Demircioglu
Photo copyright Richard Termine
NEW YORK -- Troika Ranch's
new "16 [Revolutions]," seen January 20 at the Eyebeam Art & Technology
Center, where it closes tomorrow night, is an immersive journey
that travels through a matrix of imagination, reality and time.
As Troika Ranch is a digital dance theater company -- directed by
choreographer Dawn Stoppiello and composer/media artist Mark Coniglio
-- an interactive projection installation led the audience through
a hall into the theater. Joel Sherry's stage design was one of the
most imaginative I have seen in a while. See-through plastic sheets
of different lengths hung from the ceiling at various parts of the
stage. Under cold and blue lighting created by Susan Hamburger (with
the assistance of David Tirosh), the stage looked like a crystal
cave. When lines were projected from the ceiling and behind the
audience, they reflected off the plastic sheets, the stage becoming
a wide, multi-dimensional space.
Ranch's "16 [Revolutions]." Photo by and copyright Richard Termine,
and courtesy Troika Ranch.
Minimal and careful
use of color in costumes (designed by Stoppiello) throughout the
piece helped to direct the focus to the movement. And the projections
created by Coniglio and Stoppiello sometimes generated such rich
textures on the bodies of the performers that they enhanced the
characteristics of the movement. This was especially effective when
the stage was densely dark except for projected black, white and
pink lines, which moved from stage right to left. Here the dancers
crawled slowly from stage left to right, their bodies fully reflecting
the projections. The movement started from the primal, then referenced
images and ideas from different eras: ladies with fur jackets, butlers
with handkerchiefs in their lapels. Stoppiello used many metaphors
to question the evolutions in human interaction over time. A section
involving a shoe and a woman was particularly provocative. A dancer
bit on a stiletto shoe, perhaps meant to represent femininity or
'class', before raising it aloft, then dropping it. Raising a second
shoe, she caught the first just before it landed. The dance was
full of playful and surprising moments like this.
The imagery of the projections
was tightly connected to the movement and helped to expand the meaning
of the work. At various points a simple white line of light would
appear on the floor downstage as a performer sat with his back to
the audience. The line would lengthen towards upstage, bisecting
the middle of the performer's body before extending up the back
wall all the way to the ceiling. As the performer commenced dancing,
the line would expand and contract horizontally with his movements.
Danced as a solo, this duo of light and performer became a metaphor
for a "line of thought" or "line of life." As the piece evolved
into an ensemble with a few performers interacting simultaneously
with the light line, the separation and blending of lines questioned
individuality and contact. The only part where the imagery seemed
unnecessary was when the white silhouettes of the performers' real-time
footage were projected in the background.
The performance evoked
a journey through experiences, sometimes in a very realistic form
and sometimes in a more "dream-like" or abstracted one, but there
was always a thread. Coniglio's score was a unifying force for all
the different design aspects of the work. At times he used a surround-sound
system precisely with the choreography. Electronic sounds were mixed
with environmental samples, such as those of birdsong, wind....
Human sounds -- at one point, we heard someone chewing cornflakes
-- added humor. My favorite "sound-byte" involved bells and fireflies
"16 [R]evolutions" is
a journey that makes you laugh, think, realize and get confused.
It is definitely is not a piece that ends as you exit. It is an
experience that shifts in your mind and comes into your attention
from time to time for a while.