That was my first reaction when the room suddenly went silent, and one by one, dancers began emerging from various points in the performance space. Some moved with slow, deliberate movements, others with more urgency. The movements were lovely – they really were – and it’s a testament to the skill of the performers that they are capable of improvising almost exclusively for 45 minutes. The problem was that at many points, it was obvious that it was being improvised, and therein lays the conundrum of experimentation. You just never know what you’re going to get from performance to performance.
I went into this production having read the description and brushing up a bit on the company. Nothing in the description implies that there is any kind of storyline, and it’s a good thing, because I would totally need the Cliff’s Notes if there were. I found myself staring, wondering, “Why is that girl doing half-hearted jumping jacks in front of a projected waterfall? Why is that other one salsa dancing with a concrete pillar? Why does that one look like she’s being tased over and over again?” And I’m still not sure what the particular projected images had to do with anything, although the Fountain Square sequence is really cool.
The feel of the entire experience was very primal. There’s an interesting segment where a lone dancer “realizes” that her every move is being projected onto the video screen. She moves and tests the idea, discovering and playing to the camera as though she were seeing it for the very first time. The music, which doesn’t become part of the show until about ten minutes in, also has a primordial vibe, evoking images of the hunter/gatherer bringing in the day’s haul.
For a contemporary dance aficionado, it might be a bit more obvious what the essence of this piece is supposed to be. And for the novice, this is a great opportunity to expose yourself to something new. MamLuft&Co. Dance have put together a highly stylized experimental piece, and going in, it’s important to see it as such or it can become very tedious to experience.