Friday, April 20, 2018

V.4 Dance Festival—Innovations from Eastern Europe

Guide, by Vera Ondrasikova
Mini-series such as Skirball Center's V.4 Dance Festival are good for navel-gazing New York dance-goers as they remind us of innovations taking place in dance-theater abroad, specifically Eastern Europe, which we wouldn't likely see in New York otherwise.  

April 19's program, curated by Laurie Uprichard (ex-director of Danspace Project), led off with Guide, by Czech native Vera Ondrasikova. The first eight rows of house seats were blocked off, presumably so the lasers and fog wouldn't bother audience members as much. The two elements combined to create some mesmerizing effects. Lighting technology has advanced so that light can be emitted in very precise shapes, and manipulated into planes that undulate, so when the light captures floating fog, it looks eerily like an ocean wave; or the beam can be shaped into a precise box, forming a pyramid around a performer. Two dancers, largely seen in silhouette due to the overall darkness, appeared to push the light, and also break the plane. It evoked some sort of sci-fi scenario about passing through a portal into a different realm.

Pawel Sakowicz in Total, by Dawid Grzelak
The second piece on the program was Pawel Sakowicz's Total, for which the crew laid down white marley during intermission. While Guide relied on technological advances to transform the theater, Sakowicz, of Poland, performing solo, simply utilized his moving body, a lecture-like monologue, and a small notebook which he consulted at times. His lecture involved virtuosity and the different ways people value it. The piece consists of four parts, each beginnning with a challengingly cerebral intro, followed by a section of movement. Sakowicz spoke of "eco-virtuosity," and minimizing energy output in a given dance phrase. As he demonstrated, the range of his limbs and amplitude diminished until he was using merely his eyes to suggest direction. 

Another topic involved imagining one cell undertaking the basic range of bodily functions, delivered while doing a chain of poses on his knees, accelerating each time through. He polled us to see if we wanted to see him dance his own choreography (we did), which turned out to be a section by Merce Cunningham, most recognizable in bent torso stag leaps. Finally, he said that for himself, there is no virtuosity without an audience present. While I wished he would have danced more, his intellectual musings were certainly thought-provoking and performative in their own right, delivered with wry wit and charm. 

A second program of V.4 is tonight, including Wow! by Debris Company (Slovakia) and Timothy and the Things: Your Mother at My Door, by Emese Cuhorka and Laszlo Fulop (Hungary).

No comments: