BWW Reviews: ALISON CHASE PERFORMANCE, Defying Physics
For centuries concert dance has been preoccupied with transcending gravity. From Italian Commedia performers, who dazzled with their stunts, to Marie Tagolini's ethereal pointe work in "La Sylphide," photorealistic illusions of flight have stood as a high water mark in dance craft. The dancers of "Alison Chase Performance," through the stunning engineering of Ms. Chase's choreography, consistently create astounding imagery that defy laws of physics.
"Drowned," a world premier, opened the four-part program. The work is framed within an unnecessarily complex kabuki/primitivist drama. In this drama, a drowned man washes on shore in a jungle. The primate community in the jungle is alarmed by the new arrival. At the piece's end, the man returns to the sea. While a great deal occurs to the primitive community before the man's exit, with scenes depicting violence, romance, and family clearly presented, the story is neither elusive enough for me to become lost in the meditative visuals nor defined enough to be appreciated in terms of plot structure.
The performance visuals and dance execution however are astonishing. The portrayal of the drowned man is immensely well constructed. The drowned performer bypasses the uncanny valley through a convincing display of lifelessness while simultaneously being put through unimaginable physical rigors. This same marriage of discipline and imagination is found in several artistic vistas. A scene where a character gets lost within a taunt fabric being stretched to hold her by the other dancers who are hidden behind it is beautiful in its simplicity. The performance also features videography by Derek Dudek and photgraphy by Sean Kernan which, when occupying the realm of metaphor, create vast hypnotic landscapes. Lighting by Stephen Strawbridge in this, as well as the third and fourth portion of the program, sculpt the performers well, while simultaneously communicating with the story. The sound by Paul Sullivan features a blend of photorealistic sound effects and percussive original music composition.
"Red Weather," displays six of the performers dressed in contemporary clothing. The piece features a powerful and intimate partnering by two men in the cast, as well as well formed ensemble interaction. Though it is in the performance of a woman consistently lifted by two male puppeteers as she torments a male cast member that the work exhilarates. Seemingly disinterested with both defying gravity and the gentlemen aiding her in doing so, the performer remains present to her apparent prey with an affectless intensity. Her frictionless grace as she maneuvers through the air makes her more akin to a falling dagger than a sylph. This work was accompanied by Rob Flax on the violin, and his presence on the stage, beyond tangibly featuring the talent, enforces a social sophistication within these character interactions.