Sunday, March 17, 2013

Rashaun Mitchell's Interface

Silas Riener standing on Rashaun Mitchell. Photo: Stephanie Berger
Interface, choreographed by Rashaun Mitchell with the performers, at Baryshnikov Arts Center, Mar 14. 

Title applies to:
  • The dancers relating to one another
  • Their interior (mental) and exterior (physical)
  • Facial emoting vs. felt emotion
  • Portions of the body in different actions, like the old game of "exquisite corpse"
  • The dancers and the audience
  • Our reaction to their performance
  • The projections of spliced halves of two dancers' faces
  • The graphic b/w set panels abutting one another
  • All elements converging in that space at that time
The dance:
  • Rashaun Mitchell, Melissa Toogood, Cori Kresge, and Silas Riener all danced with Cunningham. These alumni are a uniquely talented, ready pool of superdancers now dispersing throughout myriad performances. Seize on chances to see these great artists.  
  • The dancers make various faces indicative of different emotions. Do they feel how they look?
  • Start: they stand in four corners of the white marley like boxers in a ring, shoulders skew, then limbs jut out at angles
  • They converge in the center, reaching up like children stretching
  • Mitchell is pulled in a split by the others; he runs around the perimeter and sometimes hides and watches from the edge
  • Near the end, one dancer carries two others; they alternate roles
  • Facing outward, they circle, link elbows, and rotate in a circle, making exaggerated faces
  • A remarkable site-specific work using BAC's windowed theater
Melissa Toogood's wild solo:
  • She unties her long hair, which drapes over her face most of the solo
  • Seated in a pike, she shudders violently, pulls her legs into a butterfly, and tickles her feet with her hair
  • Kicks and stomps desperately
  • The others crawl under the painted set panels almost as if to take refuge from her fury
  • Mitchell grabs her ankles and spins her, face down, in circles, faster, until only her hands are brushing the ground
The choreographer, pulled every which way. Photo: Stephanie Berger
Silas Riener's solo:
  • Folds his arms into triangles and holds them next to his head, like wings
  • Contorts his face in varying emotions
  • One leg folded into a rétiré, he rises glacially on the other (magnificent) foot, pulling himself taut vertically
  • Stepping forward and then back, he arches backward dangerously deeply
  • He pushes through splits, showing more remarkable flexibility 
Production notes:
  • The inventive site-specific visual design is by Mitchell with Fraser Taylor and Davison Scandrett (who also designed the lighting) 
  • Taylor designed the b/w silkscreen rectangular prints that  slide like barn doors alternate with exposed windows on two walls of the Gilman Space at BAC
  • Video by Nicholas O'Brien is projected on the windows: spliced faces, animated biomorphic shapes
  • Music by Thomas Arsenault, mixed live, varies from moos to rumbles to bells

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