The Bates Dance Festival hosted the East Coast Premiere of Cuando Los Disfraces Se Cuelgan (When The Disguises Are Hung Up) by the Mexican company Delfos Dance on July 24 and 25.
The program notes stated
The mask is a disguise, but it can be a useful one. However, all masks fall away. In the end, we are left with our true selves....Delfos examines the masks we wear to survive, to love, and to endure in a world that seems to never want us to take off the mask.
The program began quietly with a video projection of a drawing of a large tree with dance figures sitting on the limbs. Under the tree real dancers were starting to move with a fragile, uncertain and a searching quality. Were these newborn babes exploring their world as the encountered new people? The seven dancers got bolder and stronger as the exploration continued. Now definitely into adultdhood, the fantastic-bold expressive bodies lifted each other and molded together and flung across the stage as they continued to grow. The many vignettes featured different music styles, fantastic costumes by Eloise Kazan, and more captivating video and lighting design. The choreography by co-directors Claudia Lavista and Victor Manuel Ruiz was realized in collaboration with the dancers. It showcased the agility and strength of the performers. Many of the overhead lifts and partnering involved being upside down and flung over the back were performed with such finesse and flow that it looked effortless. This companies technical abilities rivals any world class ballet company.
As the disguises continued to get stronger, they put on happy faces with their partners, where one partner controlled the other by literally lifting them by strings from their costume. Like moving a marionette, the partner had no free will but moved the way the master liked. These were complex ideas of how we behave when we love or get married or find the strength to break free from someone. The company is influenced by surrealism, art, and poetry. There were many fantastical images presented: they had shoes on their hands that became the wings of birds. A masked clown appeared holding a caged bird and wearing a long stretched-out white sheet that became a backdrop were video images appeared that made the dancers turn into birds. And finally,the tree returned but this time instead of dancers on the branches there were birds up in the tree.
After the show, one of my companions said she saw the dance as representing the progress as what happens in life: we are children, then we explore love and marriage, we age and through the hardships we might grow wiser, and then slow down and accept ourselves a little easier and struggle less. I think she got it right!
The company began in 1992 and has expanded to include a professional training program homed in Mazatlan. Delfos dancers: Aura Patron, Claudia Lavista, Roseli Arias, Omar Carrum, Augustin Martinez, Johnny Millan, and Renato Gonzalez. Bravo!
When the Disguises Are Hung Up at the Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, Maine, 2015.