BWW Reviews: LUMA - Bringing Living Light Into the Darkness
LUMA, which lit up the Lensic stage on April 6, is a unique theatrical experience. A symphony of light, music, words and movement, is performed against a background of complete darkness. Using the dark as a canvas, the brilliant, colored light displays produce ever-changing kinetic art forms that are completely captivating to behold.
LUMA is the creation of Marlin, ex-circus performer, ace juggler, actor and timeless free spirit. He says it all started when he discovered the night sky and saw the Milky Way for the first time, on a camping trip in the California desert. Taking a lighted branch from the camp fire, he waved it around in the air, producing moving patterns of sparks and fire, against the backdrop of the star-filled sky. "That's what gave me the idea of using the dark as a canvas."
Later, in Hawaii, Marlin was watching a glowing lava flow from an active volcano, when he noticed that everyone in the crowd around him seemed to be mesmerized by the moving river of light. And he had an epiphany. "All life, like a deer to the headlights or a moth to the flame, is drawn to light."
LUMA has a very simple story line. A character, who is afraid of the dark, sets out in search of a place where lights always shine - and that means heading for the nearest big town. But the story is little more than a loose framework for exploring the different ways in which human beings experience and react to light.
A team of seven female dancers, dressed in black, paint brilliant displays of light artistry, using balls, scarves, fans, flags and other props. They are accompanied by a musical score, specially written by composer Michael Rapp and a recorded narrative delivered in the form of occasional haikus.
With performers all wearing black and weaving swiftly in and out on a totally black stage, the choreography has to be flawless and special kudos to choreographer, Melissa Staroszik, for an outstanding job. The dancers have also developed their own way of communicating, by clicking their tongues, to warn each other of their presence and there is one, cardinal rule: no running!
The show clearly has universal appeal. Marlin's innovative, illuminated illusions have been seen in over 15 countries and in most of the US, where LUMA is currently on tour. "I love the different responses I get," says Marlin. "People see completely different things in the show and that's great. I think that's one of the things that defines good contemporary art. As for me, I just want people, when they leave at the end of the show, to remember and keep talking about it. A guy came up to me once, when I was wearing a Luma t-shirt and said, 'Luma? The light show? I saw that ten years ago in LA. It was amazing.' Who remembers a show they saw ten years ago?"
Well, apparently a bunch of people do and, after seeing the newest version of this quite different kind of performance art, it's not difficult to understand why.
For tour details: www.lumatheater.com
For Lensic info: www.lensic.org
Photo courtesy of Luma theater.