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Flash Review 2, 4-17: Reflections on the Lighting
Refracting with Zawerucha and Fritz

By Susan Yung
Copyright 2000 Susan Yung

The concept behind "Fractured Light," a collaboration between choreographer and dancer Stefa Zawerucha and lighting designer David Fritz recognizing the talent and work of theater lighting designers, is noble and certainly worthy. However, to put the spin on a recurring thought, light doesn't become truly visible unless reflected. "Fractured Light," seen Friday at P.S. 122, feels like beautiful, strong light struggling to find a good reflective surface -- you sense intensity and purpose, yet it isn't completely manifested. But it succeeded as a big valentine to lighting designers.

Zawerucha interviewed Roma Flowers, Carol Mullins, Michael Mazzola, Philip Sandstrom and Jennifer Tipton. A well-edited recording of the designers speaking plays through nearly the entire 45-minute work. The text is fascinating, touching on ideas such as receiving light in the womb, the physics of light, dreaming in color or b/w, the visceral power of color, finding "the muscle" in light. It only loses a bit of steam when the designers remark on lack of critical and public recognition; as well, the constant chatter threatens to become white noise, devolving into lecture/demo-land. I also wanted to know each speaker's identity, which wasn't provided.

Zawerucha's choreography, performed solo, is apt at times, fluid yet springy, but leans on descriptive gesture, mime, and a reliance on arm and hand movements -- fluttering, shaping the lit air, windmilling and slicing space. The dance was subservient to the overall concept and structure of the work so that her movement was patterned after the text. I wanted Zawerucha to stop the tape and dance more to the lush, percussion-based music by Tigger Benford, perhaps experimenting in her own way with the magic of light.

To an extent, it was unavoidable, but the structure of the evening took on the form of a checklist of lighting design. Raking light from the side, pin spots, oval and rectangular spots, uplighting, angled spots, shafts, etc. Perhaps it was the close confines of the small theater at P.S. 122, but one got more of a suggestion than an actual sense of awe evoked by some of the lighting designs of the evening's subjects.

However, the performance showed polish and a deep affinity for the subject and theatrical collaboration as a whole. I find myself guilty as charged here, citing the costume designer (Naoko Nagata) and sound designer (Andy Russ) at the end, but their contributions were a part of the whole that was refreshing and honest in theory and presentation. And, in a footnote, I was much more attuned to the lighting in another company's performance that I saw afterwards on Sunday afternoon, showing that this writer came away at least somewhat enlightened.

"Fractured Light" continues through April 23, Thursday through Saturday. For more info, go to www.ps122.org, or click on the venue's ad on our Home Page.


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