Sunday, August 25, 2013

LUZ - Esduardo Mariscal Dance Theater

LUZ (light)

Esduardo Mariscal dance theater returned to the stage after many years absence, and his return is a very welcome addition to the Portland arts scene. Mariscal's choreography stands out because of it's "comical surrealism" and his choice of performers. His dances include professional dancers but he also works with untrained people, actors, poets, and visual artists. They all perform together onstage.

The mix of people is very interesting to watch because Mariscal uses each performers skill set to make them shine. It's a very theatrical experience, and althought it's based in dance movement, the dance moves are not the highlights. Each individual performer stands out because of their expression, resolve, and how they embrace the many vignettes Mariscal provides to tell a story of light from darkness to freedom.

Mariscal offered many scenes which included excellent video imagery from Matt Powers. Also effective were the many props and costumes adding to a lush environment. In one section dancers lie on the floor wearing unicorn heads, in another scene a puppeteer manipulates two red dragons. Nothing is obvious and it all makes the audience consider what light means to us and our lives. The final moment for the hour long dance happens when a door at the back of the stage is slowly opened and a brilliant bright white light shines through. Excellent imagery.

To be noted are all the performers: Joni Altshuler, Robin Behl, Dylan Chestnutt, Jeff Decareau, Beth Gorski, Emma Holder, Debi Irons, Ken Kohl, Jennifer Lunden, Philip McCann, Patty Medina, Rodney Nason, Eric Worthley, and Sarah Zucchero.

LUZ at Portland Stage Company, August 22-24, 2013 - Portland, Maine

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bridgman | Packer Dance

*Visual Poetry of Bodies Moving without Bodies.
*Choreographic Video images that Transform reality on stage.
*Sensory Overload in a really Great way.
*Stunningly beautiful design of dance, space, and sound.

Bridgman|Packer Dance at the Bates Dance Festival. Take a look at a video excerpt from Under The Skin the first piece performed.

Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer are amazing artists that have elevated the use of video with dance to extraordinary heights. Many choreographers use video as an element to add another layer to their work. But here, instead the video is a partner. They integrate their live movements with video images leaving the audience to question and decipher- what is live and what is virtual? It's hard to tell sometimes, and that is so exciting.

There was so much going on in Under The Skin. The dance begins with Ken Field playing live saxophone onstage. He played along to other taped musicians creating a layered rich jazzy sound. Then as the video and two dancers join him, the stage is taken over with a force of sound and light, creating a powerful enveloping energy. Bridgman and Packer call their work Video Partnering. They say it's used to "expand the possibilities of dance by multiplying, transposing and manipulating their own life-size video images and integrating these with their live performance. At a given moment, Bridgman lifts Packer as her video image emerges from within her and rises. The performers’ bodies become screens; live-camera projections switch and merge their identities..."

The technical element of this is so visually stunning that I found myself gasping and saying "oh wow" which is surprising in our age of advanced computer generated effects and technology. And not to be overshadowed by technology were their physical and generous movements as dancers. The two made very good choices to highlight their strength and finesse. They are fluid and very experienced partners that show comfort working with each other as well as their own dynamic individuality.

The second piece Voyeur featured a set that had many angles of walls with windows and a door that were transformed with video projections. The set changed from the interiors of a house, to the outside of a brick building, to looking down a street, then being the Portland Custom House building, to the ocean, and so many more images. Again, the dancers interacted with each other, and with video images of themselves to the ever changing images of the set. The work uses the paintings of Edward Hopper as it's point of departure. Take a look at this video excerpt from Voyeur.

Bridgman | Packer Dance at the Bates Dance Festival, August 2, 3 2013, Lewiston Maine

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Oasis - U.S. Preimere

Nejla Yatkin and her NY2/Dance company performed Oasis on Friday and Saturday night at the Bates Dance Festival and the subtitle was - "Everything you wanted to know about the Middle East but were afraid to dance." Well, The company jumps straight into the fire of middle eastern politics through the voice of movement and they don't really hold anything back. The topics covered were rape, repression, torture, voiceless women, and being degraded. All depicted through dance and movement which was a powerful medium to approach such heavy topics. The fine company of seven dancers took us through a journey that began with love. Oasis starts out with two lovers exploring each others bodies with such fluidity and restrained passion that their desire to be together is overwhelming. They are blindfolded, that only makes the movement more important because they can't see each other, but they can touch, sense, and feel each other. Danced by Fadi Khoury and Nejla Yatkin. They need to be together. This is based on an old traditional love story similar to Romeo and Juliet. And like that tale, these lovers are separated and never to find true love.

Next to unfold is a brutal torture scene, then humiliation where three couples show what happens when a person dominates and represses another into submission. Very effective was putting a cloth over the head and hijacking the person rendering them helpless. Three different versions were danced with haunting beauty that became nightmarish. As an audience member you wanted to say stop, this is too much. But the pain kept continuing. Ms. Yatkin has really put these human rights issues up close and into our faces in Oasis she is not letting us off the hook. The pain continues into the third section of this evening length piece where we go from "loss" to "discovery" but that doesn't solve the problem. The dancers move energetically but there is an over riding sense that they are still trapped under the veil of oppression even though they are now aware of it. Great physicality from all the dancer. Also in the company were Shay Bares, Sevin Ceviker, Rachel Holmes, Jean-Rene Homehr, and Karina Lesko.

Also of great importance was the original musical score by Portland based musician and composer Shamou. The music complimented and helped create the sense of place with languid and sensuous rhythms which the lovers in the opening scene used to undulate and embrace to: and then to the raw sounds of tense percussion as the torturers preyed on their victims. The music helped move the stories with many different instruments and layers of sound. The lighting design by Ben Levine was dark and exotic which matched the story. Costume design by Ursula Verduzco and Ms. Yatkin was effective and gave a strong sense of flowing fabric that one associates with the Middle East. Over all this was a -lush, complex, disturbing, and important performance.

Oasis-NY2/Dance at the Bates Dance Festival in the Scheffer Auditorium, Lewiston, Maine Saturday July 13, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Audio interview with Nejla Yatkin and Shamou

This interview is from my radio program Big Talk which airs Thursdays on WMPG-Southern Maine Community Radio. Nejla Yatkin/NY2Dance is performing this weekend at the Bates Dance Festival and I spoke with Nejla and composer Shamou about the work called Oasis.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dance/Performance opportunity in Portland, Maine

Choreographer Esduardo Marascal is offering a unique dance experience.

If you'd like to work with a master collaborator and visionary artist, get yourself down to the Casco Bay Movers studio on Saturday May 11th.