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